Wednesday, April 24, 2013

6th Circuit Hears Oral Arguments In Homeschooling Asylum Case

As reported by the Christian Post and AP, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday heard oral arguments in Romeike v. Holder, a case that is being widely followed by homeschool advocates.  At issue is whether asylum should be granted to a German family who came to the United States because of Germany's mandatory school attendance law that does not permit homeschooling.  8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A) defines a refugee who may be entitled to asylum as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his home country "because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion."

The Romeikes emphasized in oral argument that theirs is a religious freedom claim. They say in their brief (full text) that they chose homeschooling because of anti-Christian and sexually inappropriate elements of the public school curriculum. They contend:
It is beyond dispute that religious homeschooling is a valid exercise of basic human rights, not just in the United States but also under international human rights norms. Germany is obligated to protect these rights under both its own Constitution and its voluntary adoption of international human rights treaties. Instead, Germany punishes homeschoolers for acts of conscience. The Romeikes will suffer such persecution if they are forced to return to Germany. 
On the other hand, the Justice Department in its brief (full text) contends:
[T]he record contains no evidence suggesting that the government of Germany created the mandatory attendance requirement in order to punish homeschoolers or religious people, or that the law is unfairly administered in such a way that homeschoolers or members of any religion are specifically targeted.