Home-schooling families have long relied on religious freedom as their central constitutional protection. Obviously, the Supreme Courtrsquo;s decision in Smith II, which drastically curtails religious freedom, has a severe potential impact upon home schoolers anticipating constitutional protection.
Fortunately, there was a ray of hope in this decision for home schools and Christian schools. The Court held that the traditional protection afforded preferred constitutional rights would still apply to religious freedom cases if presented as a ”hybrid” claim of constitutional protection. In other words, religious freedom is not strong enough to stand on its own, but if attached to another fundamental right, the traditional rules of constitutional law would still apply.
The Court set forth three specific examples of “hybrid” constitutional rights: cases which involve freedom of religion and (1) freedom of speech or press, (2) freedom of association, or (3) “the right of parents acknowledged in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925), to direct the education of their children.” Cases which involve freedom of religion and one of these other constitutional rights will still be protected. However, freedom of religion becomes entirely superfluous in such an inquiry. If an action is protected by the Free Speech Clause, there is no need to resort to a “hybrid” claim.
Our optimism based on these hybrid rights must be tempered by the reality that the Supreme Court has repeatedly denied petitions for writs of certiorari in home school and Christian school cases where the lower courts have failed to apply correctly the rules of constitutional law in private education cases. We cannot expect any help from the Supreme Court in our area of concern. We can attempt to use the language regarding hybrid rights in Smith II to see if we can “make a silk purse out of a sowrsquo;s ear.”
FROM THE EDITOR
Over and over again, we have seen mighty miracles God has performed on behalf of home schoolers. In contact after contact, when we thought for sure a home school family would be prosecuted, the Lord has changed the heart of the official or prohibited him from coming against the home schooler.
If a family does have to go to court, we have seen the Lord open up numerous ways for us to get the case dismissed on a technicality. In fact, in spite of the intense persecution home school families have had to face, not a single HSLDA family, since HSLDA was formed in 1983, has had to stop home schooling in a criminal truancy case.
Many legislative battles which have looked impossible, have been won. This can only be explained as Godrsquo;s grace. In fact, at least 30 states have passed favorable home school laws since 1982, protecting parentrsquo;s right to teach children at home.
Even the recent devastating decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which has greatly reduced the religious freedom in this country, left parentsrsquo; rights to home school intact.
God continues to bless the home schoolers across the country in every area, including restoration of their families and high academic achievement of their children.
This issue of the “Home School Report” demonstrates some of the amazing ways God protects home schoolers.
To me, all of this points to one thing: Godrsquo;s hand is protecting home schoolers because they are faithfully serving Him and teaching their children His principles as they apply to every subject. I believe he is raising up the home schoolers to fill the leadership positions of tomorrow. We at HSLDA are privileged to work to protect your God-given rights as parents to raise and educate your children in His ways.
Thank you once again for all your prayers for my family. A few weeks ago, God turned around a sudden and steady decline in my wife Tracyrsquo;s health, and has blessed us with another child who is three months along. God has also answered prayers concerning Cora Prather, one of our employees in the membership department. After an intense kidney infection in which the doctors thought she would lose her kidney, God healed her of the infection and she is returning back to work. God is faithful!