by Amy Wilson, Government Affairs Director
On Tuesday, May 14, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit rendered its opinion in the case of the Romieke family, German homeschoolers seeking asylum in the United States on the grounds that Germany’s compulsory school attendance law persecutes homeschoolers. The court upheld the prior decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals, which found that the Romiekes’ situation does not qualify them for political asylum under established U.S. law.
This decision is of course bad news for the Romieke family, whose attorneys (affiliated with the Home School Legal Defense Association, HSLDA) have said they plan to appeal it, but it is not bad news for homeschooling freedom in the United States. In fact, the judges clearly acknowledged and upheld past case law establishing the Constitutional right of U.S. citizens to direct the upbringing and education of their children. This decision clearly states that Americans have the right to homeschool.
The court explained its reasoning in rejecting the Romeikes’ asylum claim, while upholding the right of Americans to homeschool, as follows:
“That the United States Constitution protects the rights of ‘parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control,’ … does not mean that a contrary law in another country establishes persecution on religious or any other protected ground. And even if, as the Romeikes claim, several human-rights treaties joined by Germany give parents the right to make decisions about their children’s educations … that by itself does not require the granting of an American asylum application. …
The question is not whether Germany’s policy violates the American Constitution, whether it violates the parameters of an international treaty or whether Germany’s law is a good idea. It is whether the Romeikes have established the prerequisites of an asylum claim—a well-founded fear of persecution on account of a protected ground. … The Romeikes have not met this burden. The German law does not on its face single out any protected group, and the Romeikes have not provided sufficient evidence to show that the law’s application turns on prohibited classifications or animus based on any prohibited ground.” [emphasis added]
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers (VaHomeschoolers) encourages homeschoolers who are concerned about this case and what it means for homeschooling in the United States to review the court’s decision for themselves.