US Department of Justice: No Fundamental Right to Homeschool

Uwe Romeike, Hannelore Romeike, Daniel Romeike, Lydia Romeike, Josua Romeike, Christian Romeike, Damaris Romeike

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike were a couple living in Germany who homeschooled their six children. There’s only one problem: in Germany, homeschooling has been against the law since the Nazis were in power.

After facing intimidation, abuse, and repeated fines (to the tune of $10,000 USD) the Romeikes chose to move to the United States to ask asylum and homeschool their children in peace. In 2010, they were granted political refuge by a US immigration judge. Like so many immigrants before them, they came to America seeking to exercise religious liberty in a way not afforded to them in their own nation.

But under Attorney General Eric Holder, the US Department of Justice wants to send them back. If they are forced to return to Germany and refuse to send their children to school, they face the very real threat of losing custody.

Now living in Tennessee, the Romeikes are being represented by Michael Farris, an attorney and the founder and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Writes Farris:

The U.S. law of asylum allows a refugee to stay in the United States permanently if he can show that he is being persecuted for one of several specific reasons. Among these are persecution for religious reasons and persecution of a “particular social group.”

In most asylum cases, there is some guesswork necessary to figure out the government’s true motive—but not in this case. The Supreme Court of Germany declared that the purpose of the German ban on homeschooling was to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”

This sounds elegant, perhaps, but at its core it is a frightening concept. This means that the German government wants to prohibit people who think differently from the government (on religious or philosophical grounds) from growing and developing into a force in society.


But, let’s assess the position of the United States government on the face of its argument: a nation violates no one’s rights if it bans homeschooling entirely.

There are two major portions of constitutional rights of citizens—fundamental liberties and equal protection. The U.S. Attorney General has said this about homeschooling. There is no fundamental liberty to homeschool. So long as a government bans homeschooling broadly and equally, there is no violation of your rights. This is a view which gives some acknowledgement to the principle of equal protection but which entirely jettisons the concept of fundamental liberties.

A second argument is revealing. The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.


This argument necessarily means that the United States government believes that it would not violate your rights if our own government banned homeschooling entirely.

This is a dangerous precedent. If the position of the US DOJ is that there is no fundamental right for families to educate their own children, how long will it take before the right to do so is taken away in the US? The case is couched in language about individual vs. group rights as a basis for evidence of persecution, but what right is more fundamental in our nation than individual religious liberty, the very principle America was founded upon?

The continued encroachment upon religious liberty under this administration is chilling. Keep an eye on this case, as it will likely serve as a bellwether for what is to come for US homeschoolers.




Categories:Education Politics Religious Liberty

  • Dave N.

    The idea that all parents are somehow magically endowed with the ability to educate their children is absurd. Our next door neighbor “homeschools” her three daughters, which basically equals “let the kids run wild.” No great surprise when the oldest, who just turned 15, wound up pregnant this past year. We live in one of the top school districts in the country–I would like to think that these poor girls would have have had at least a fighting chance in the public school system. They will sadly have to live with the consequences of their mother’s poor decisions about education.

  • Steve Skojec

    The Constitution exists to set limits on government, not to enumerate every conceivable right an American Citizen might have. Some rights are set out in the Constitution and Bill of Rights because they are so important, and in so much danger from the tendency of the state toward tyranny, that the founders felt they needed to be preserved.

    But in America, at least, the default setting is liberty and subsidiarity. This flies in the face of that.

  • Leslie T

    Where does it say in the US Constitution that you have a right to homeschool your children?

    • Chester Mealer

      It is not a matter of where the Constitution says I have the right to homeschool, it’s a matter of where it says I don’t have the right to homeschool. Education provided by the government is a convenience for the taxpayers.

      But to answer your questions it’s in the 10th amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

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  • Mike

    Interesting that this attempts to link the Nazis with this law… The present democratic German government is made in our image. You wouldn’t try to link their freeways or VW cars to Nazis unless you wanted to sway opinion.

    Also, I’d be curious what you all would be saying if it weren’t a Christian seeking refuge in the USA. What about a conservative Muslim who wanted to homeschool in Germany because they didn’t fit into the mainstream of political and religious ideology.

    • Steve Skojec

      The law was implemented by Hitler’s government and has never been changed. In 1937, Hitler wrote:

      “The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”

      Sounds like the same thing to me.

    • MLF

      Why would it be any different for a Muslim? I’m not sure where you’re going with that question.

  • NoreenD

    “This argument necessarily means that the United States government believes that it would not violate your rights if our own government banned homeschooling entirely.”

    Where in the Constitution does it say that parents are obligated to use a particular form of educating their children? It doesn’t. This is another example of Hodler’s lack of knowledge of the law. I guess he went to school with Obama. Maybe, if this family can come to the US illegally from Mexico, they wouldn’t be having this problem.



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