The U.S. Department of Justice submitted a brief to the U.S. Sixth Court of Appeals on June 26th in response to the Home School Legal Defense Association’s petition for a rehearing submitted on May 28th in the case of Romeike v. Holder. In it they stated that the German laws’ aim in suppressing homeschooling is to promote tolerance. They say that the law is not grounds for claiming persecution.
The Home School Legal Defense Association has petitioned the Court for a rehearing after they ruled in May that the freedom to homeschool is not protected for those seeking asylum. The petition said that the three-judge panel that originally heard the case in Cincinnati ignored critical evidence and failed to follow the established legal rules for asylum cases. The Romeike family left Germany and sought political asylum in the United States due to Germany’s persecution of homeschooling families. They had been fined, had their children escorted to school by the police and were warned they could lose custody of their kids if they kept homeschooling.
A federal district court judge granted the Romikes asylum here against the wishes of the Federal government who wanted the family deported. The government appealed that decision to the Board of Immigration appeals and won prior to the appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court.
The Justice Department claimed that the Romeikes were being prosecuted under generally applicable law and that there is no proof that Germany specifically targets religious homeschoolers. This contradicts statements made by the German High Court.
They asserted that Germany’s open opposition to the “development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ ” is designed to create an “open, pluralistic society.”
“Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany,” the DOJ’s brief states. “It is scarcely feasible, with those stated goals in mind, to tease from the opinion, a persecutory motive on the part of those who enforce the law.”
“Silencing the ‘intolerant’ to promote tolerance is not only illogical; it is antithetical to any theory of freedom of conscience,” HSLDA said in its reply.
“Attorney General Holder is trying to seek dismissal of this case because he believes that targeting specific groups in the name of tolerance is within the normal legitimate functions of government,” said Michael Farris, HSLDA founder and chairman. “This cannot be the ultimate position of the United States without denying the essence of our commitment to liberty. We’re trying to provide a home for this family who would otherwise go back to facing fines, jail time, and forcible removal of their children because of their religious convictions about how their children should be educated. Why Attorney General Holder thinks that it is appropriate for any country to do this to a family simply for homeschooling is beyond me.”
“Since the Sixth Circuit asked the Justice Department to respond to our original petition, we know there is at least one judge who is interested in the case,” added HSLDA Senior Council Jim Mason. “Time will tell as to whether enough judges will want to hear it.”
The Court will determine soon whether all of the judges of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case.