A petition filed Thursday asks the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a Nazi-era standard that would be imposed if the Obama administration gets its wish and deports a family of homeschoolers to Germany.
The petition from the Home School Legal Defense Association is on behalf of the Romeike family, which fled Germany because of the nation’s ban on homeschooling.
Germany bans homeschooling based on a Nazi-era philosophy that the shaping of the minds of children ultimately must be guided by the state, not parents.
The petition, according to the HSLDA, cites statements from German officials that the purpose of their ongoing repression of homeschooling is to prevent “religious and philosophical minorities” from developing into “parallel societies.”
“Human rights standards make it plain that, although a nation may require compulsory attendance and may impose reasonable rules related to educational quality, no nation may exercise philosophical control over a child’s education contrary to the parents’ belief,” the HSLDA statement said.
HSLDA’s founder and president, Michael Farris, noted that international human rights protections were written in response to Germany’s practices in the Nazi era.
“It is impossible to distinguish the German desire for philosophical conformity today from that of the 1930s,” he said. “Children do not belong to any government in any decade.”
It was in 1937 when Adolf Hitler said: “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.”
In 2003, the German Supreme Court handed down the Konrad decision in which “religiously or philosophically motivated” homeschooling was banned.
Four years later, the German Federal Parliament changed a key provision of German child protection law, making it easier for children to be taken away from their parents for supposed “educational neglect.” In that same year, the case of Katerina Plett, a homeschooling mother who moved with her children to Austria while her husband maintained the family residence in Germany, made its way to the highest criminal court in Germany.
The ruling said “the general public has an interest in thwarting the development of religiously or motivated parallel societies” and “integrating minorities in that regard.”
The court, stunningly, said homeschooling was a form of “child endangerment,” so authorities were justified in using force to take children.
Children have been seized in several cases, most recently just weeks ago when armed police officers equipped with a battering ram to knock down doors forcibly took four children from German parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich because they were being homeschooled.
WND reported later the children were return to the parents after they were given no choice but to agree to have the children begin attending public school classes.
In April, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sustained the Obama administration’s revocation of asylum granted to the Romeike family in 2010.
The original immigration judge, Lawrence O. Burman, granted the Romeike family asylum on Jan. 26, 2010, under the Federal Immigration and Naturalization Act because Germany’s national policy of suppressing homeschooling violated their religious faith and because German authorities were improperly motivated to suppress homeschoolers as a social group.
In its ruling against the Romeikes, the Sixth Circuit rejected the judge’s findings, stating that Germany’s harsh treatment of homeschoolers did not amount to persecution and that the German authorities were not motivated by an improper purpose.
Farris said the U.S. “should be a place of asylum for those who are persecuted because of their decision to follow their core religious beliefs.”
“Parents, not the government, decide first how children are educated,” he said. “Germany’s notorious persecution of families who homeschool violates their own obligations to uphold human rights standards and must end.”
Michael Donnelly, the organization’s director of international relations, said Germany’s “clear violations of human rights standards in the area of homeschooling have been going on for over a decade.”
“German authorities recently seized the Wunderlich children and are prosecuting others – seeking outrageous jail terms – just because of homeschooling,” he said. “Germany’s repression of homeschooling freedom is infecting other European nations, and our country should send a message that the United States will provide a refuge for victims of persecution even from ostensibly free democratic countries like Germany.”
Farris said that although the case involves Germany, others should be concerned.
“I want the American homeschool community and other friends of liberty to take note – this mindset isn’t limited to Germany. Many U.S. policymakers and academics agree. … They are even working to see them realized here. So far, thankfully, homeschooling isn’t a legitimate reason (anymore) for the government to kidnap your children if they don’t go to state approved schools,” Farris said.
Donnelly said there are “already too many voices in the United States that want to advance the idea that the state must control education for the safety of the state or other reasons.”
“And this is the same rationale of the German government in perpetrating deplorable acts like this,” he said. “Why should we think it couldn’t or won’t happen here?”
Donnelly asked further: “Can’t a government that can order you to get health care tell you that you don’t qualify for certain life-saving treatments, tell parents they can’t allow their children to get certain kinds of counseling or that they must have a particular kind of medical treatments or that certain religious speech is intolerant and may not be permitted or must be punished, or that only national curricular standards are acceptable for all children, etc. – can’t a government like that order you to send your children to school? And then punish you if you don’t?”
See reports on the Romeikes:
As WND reported, police officers appeared on the Romeike’s doorstep in Germany in 2006 to forcibly take their children to a local public school.
In one case several years ago, a German young teen was taken from her family and put into a psychiatric ward because she was homeschooled. Fines and even jail terms are common.
WND previously reported on a law journal article that undermines the Obama administration’s arguments.
The article, “Germany Homeschoolers as ‘Particular Society Group’: Evaluation Under Current U.S. Asylum Jurisprudence,” was written by Miki Kawashima Matrician and published in the 2011 Boston College International and Comparative Law Review.
|Christer and Domenic Johansson|
The journal article said: “The BIA should find that all German homeschoolers comprise a ‘particular social group,’ regardless of whether the Romeike family successfully established a claim of ‘well-founded fear of persecution.’”
Homeschooling crackdowns in Sweden, Scotland and the Netherlands have followed parts of the German model already.
In Sweden, the nation’s Supreme Court ordered custody of a boy permanently removed from his parents over homeschooling.
The high court refused to review a lower court’s decision to forcibly terminate Christer and Annie’s parental rights to Domenic, who was seized by armed officers from the family when he was 7.
The Supreme Court of Sweden delivered a “perfunctory order” rejecting the family’s appeal and, in effect, delivering its “death sentence” in the case.
The Romeike brief explains the worry about persecution is valid, because Germany “enforces its ban on most homeschooling by threatening jail, excessive fines, and the loss of custody of one’s children.”
Uwe Andreas Josef Romeike, and his wife, Hannelore, have five minor children, who, if forced by Obama to return to Germany and enroll in public school will have their Christian beliefs “undermined” by teachings on “evolution, disrespect for authority figures, bullying, and witchcraft,” the appeal states.
German schools, the appeal notes, also promote abortion and homosexuality.
The petition argues “international standards expressly require a nation to permit parents to choose educational alternatives which honor the parents’ religious values.”
The Supreme Court need to make a decision since various circuit courts have made conflicting rulings, the appeal points out.
“This is also the rare case where the motive of the government is stated, plainly and unambiguously, by the government itself in official statements. There is no need to find selective prosecution, unequal punishment, or punishment that is disparate to the crime as a means of determining the government’s motive, and when the government forthrightly announces its motive and plainly admits that it is seeking to repress the applicant on a protected ground,” the appeal says.