A conference is scheduled among U.S. Supreme Court justices on Feb. 21 where the fate of a German family now living in America but facing government persecution if they return to Germany will be discussed.
That’s according to a report from the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been working on the case involving the Romeikes, Uwe, Hannelore and their children, for several years.
As homeschooling parents, they faced government persecution in the form of fines, jail time and loss of their own children in Germany, based on a Hitler-era law that still is enforced by SWAT teams with battering rams and weapons.
They sought, and obtained, asylum in the United States because of that persecution, but the Obama administration, unhappy with the result, appealed and has forced the issue up to the high court.
The HSLDA is reporting that the case is expected to be discussed at a Feb. 21 conference among justices, where they discuss what cases to review. The result could be announced as early as Feb. 24, when a series of orders is expected to be released.
If the case is accepted, and the justices already have expressed considerable interest in the issue, there still would have to be briefs, arguments, and eventually, a decision.
According to the HSLDA, the Romeike family was granted asylum in 2010 by a federal immigration judge who found that “Germany’s treatment of the family amounted to persecution. As evidence he cited state officials’ threats against homeschoolers in general to levy crushing fines, file criminal charges, and take away children, and against the Romeikes in particular for their sincere religious beliefs.”
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided against the family and with Obama, saying Germany was just enforcing its law, which stemmed from the Hitler era in 1938. It had been only a year earlier when Hitler himself 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.”
The Obama administration initially refused even to address the issue when the request was submitted for the Supreme Court to review it, but the court ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to respond.
Justice Department officials then contended that Germany wasn’t persecuting homeschoolers, just applying those Hitler-era laws to everyone. They cited Germany’s desire to “promote socialization, pluralism, tolerance and democracy.”
Michael Farris, founder of the HSLDA, challenged, however, in the appeal to the Supreme Court that there was a grave injustice being imposed, and even the federal courts are confused on what standard should be used to determine when prosecution becomes persecution.
“The Supreme Court should intervene to settle the law in the federal circuits, which are in a state of chaos over how to decide when a foreign law is used to persecute people who act on the basis of their religion, like the Romeikes,” Farris said. “The Sixth Circuit’s decision perverted congressional intent of asylum law and used it as a sword against the Romeikes. This is an absurdity that we hope the Supreme Court will overturn.”
Michael Donnelly, the HSLDA director for international affairs, added, “It is appalling that three American judges [on the 6th Circuit] ignored critical evidence from Germany’s own Supreme Court which explicitly states German states may treat religiously or philosophically motivated homeschooling parents unequally and harshly.
“The recent story of the Wunderlich family, whose children were seized just because of homeschooling and who are now effectively imprisoned in Germany, demonstrates how important this issue is. The fact that our own government is unwilling to support asylum for these families is troubling,” he said.
The HSLDA has argued that nearly a dozen human rights documents and treaties around the globe, including the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights, provide a groundwork for the belief that parents have a primary role in decision-making over the education of their children.
HSLDA reported that Thomas Schirrmacher, the executive chair of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, is based in Germany and recently lectured on religious freedom.
He said just because Germany has a law outlawing homeschooling does not make it right, and Germans, of all people, should know.
“The fact that the laws of a nation make something lawful doesn’t make it right,” he told the organization. “Everything Hitler did in Germany was allowed by the law. He never moved until the law allowed him. Applying the national law of Germany at the time you couldn’t have convicted Hitler of a crime. But what he did obviously and dramatically was a crime against humanity.”
He said the National Socialists, the Nazis, in Germany originated the idea.
“In 1938 the National Socialists passed a law making it a criminal offense if parents did not send their children to their schools,” he said. “These laws were never changed after the war in order to allow for homeschooling which had been possible before. I believe German leaders should take action to protect the right of parents to educate their children at home.”
The Supreme Court actually has had to order the Obama administration twice to respond to the case.
WND has reported on the case since in began 2006 with police officers appearing on the Romeike’s doorstep to forcibly take their children to a local public school.
HSLDA, in its petition, explained that German officials have confirmed 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.
In Germany, the persecution continues, with children having been seized from their parents in several cases, most recently last September when armed police officers equipped with a battering ram 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 the Romeike case, 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.
See reports on the Romeikes:
Uwe Andreas Josef Romeike, and his wife, Hannelore, have seven 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.