Home School Legal Defense Association
P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, VA 20134



For Immediate Release Contact: Michael Farris Jr.
May 29, 2013 (540) 338-5600

HSLDA Files Appeal for Rehearing on Romeike Case


PURCELLVILLE, Va.—On Tuesday, May 28, Michael Farris, founder and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, filed an appeal to the entire 15-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit to rehear the Romeike case, in which a three-judge panel in Cincinnati denied the German homeschooling family asylum for being persecuted in their home country.

The brief claims that the three-judge panel ignored critical evidence and established a new set of rules that will “confuse the determination of future cases arising from prosecutions under generally applicable laws.” In their ruling, the panel said that there are two types of cases: easy ones and hard ones. They said that the Romeike case was a “hard one” because the German law did not set out on its face to persecute homeschoolers.

“The Romeikes have been subjected to a great injustice by the Panel’s approach,” HSLDA’s brief states. “But they will not be the last legitimate applicants for asylum who are harmed by this improper invention of a new asylum standard of ‘easy cases’ and ‘hard cases.’ ”

The petition focuses considerable attention on the fact that the panel never mentions the German high court’s admission that Germany’s ban on homeschooling is motivated by the desire to suppress religious and philosophical “parallel societies.” The panel also never mentions that the German government targets homeschoolers in order to prevent “the damage to the children, which is occurring through the continued exclusive teaching of the children of the mother at home.”

“It’s one thing to enforce truancy laws because a child refuses to go to school,” said Farris. “It’s another thing to force children to go to school because the German government doesn’t want religious or philosophical parallel societies to exist.”

In addition to ignoring the motive behind German compulsory attendance laws, the brief also states the court ignores the human rights elements of the case. “This court and others, including the Supreme Court, have ruled in favor of other asylum applicants based on human rights. The panel issuing the Romeike decision ignored the human right to teach one’s children without the threat of having that child forcibly taken away,” said Farris.

Michael Donnelly, HSLDA’s director for international relations, has worked extensively with German homeschool families over the past six years and says there is no question that homeschoolers in Germany are being persecuted. “If facing outrageous fines, unending criminal prosecution, and the threat of having your children taken from you isn’t persecution, I don’t know what is,” he said. “The German Supreme Court itself acknowledges that parents who homeschool for religious or philosophical reasons are targeted for unequal treatment. What more do you need?”

Farris wrote in the request for rehearing that the panel’s decision “simply cannot be the law of this country … [I]t is … anomalous to deny the quintessential American freedom—first established at Plymouth Rock—to a family who asks for asylum from a nation that seeks to remove children from their parents so that the parents cannot teach their own children according to their faith.”

Farris expects a reply from the Sixth Circuit within a few weeks to see if they will take the case. If the rehearing is rejected, Farris says they will appeal to the Supreme Court.

Read the petition for rehearing en banc >>

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a 30-year-old, 85,000 member non-profit organization and the preeminent national association advocating the legal right of parents to homeschool their children.

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