As you may already know, homeschooling is with rare exception illegal in Germany, as well as many other countries. Over the last few years Sweden and Germany have become more tyrannical over the issue, even raiding homes SWAT-style, removing children and putting parents in jail.
Since learning of the Romeikes’ quest for political asylum here in the United States, all I’ve done so far is look up the basic criteria for granting asylum:
“a well-founded fear of persecution based on at least one of five internationally recognized grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”
and briefly attempt to debate a commenter over at Tom’s who, unsurprisingly, didn’t stick around for much of my argumentative stylings:
The criteria to which you refer are race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and social group. I could reasonably argue that social group and political opinion apply, but the most obvious criterion is religion.
Want to take another stab at your argument that their decision to homeschool is not religiously based?
He did not want to take another stab.
The 6th Circuit ruled several weeks ago that the German homeschooling-and-evangelical-Christian family is not eligible for refugee status and should be deported. The Romeikes appealed for a rehearing en banc. The DOJ responded on the 26th of June. At this point, the parties are waiting to see if the 6th Circuit will grant the rehearing. If they do not, the Romeikes’ next step will be to appeal directly to SCOTUS.
Now I’ve had a peek at the two latest briefs. They aren’t long or complicated. Basically, the Petitioners said the 6th Circuit panel did not follow precedent for evaluating asylum claims, and further that the panel’s new rule is flawed and the decision erroneous.
The United States responded first with the obligatory standard of proof argument that every party not bearing heightened scrutiny uses in the hopes of winning without getting to the merits of the case. Then they basically said nuh-uh, they did too decide correctly.
The arguments are mainly legal, but the DOJ also disagrees on a crucial point of fact: whether the German government uses its compulsory attendance law in order to prevent Christians from homeschooling their children for religious reasons.
Appellate courts give deference to trial-level findings of fact. Since this was an administrative case, the trial level wasn’t in a federal district court, but rather before an administrative judge, who granted the Romeikes’ request for asylum. In order to rule in their favor, the judge must have made factual findings in favor of the Romeikes. Yet, the only reference to findings of fact is in a DOJ reference to the “Board.” How that relates to the administrative judge’s decision, I do not know.
Anyhow, in the latest brief the Petitioners used a quote from a high-level German court to demonstrate intent to prevent religiously motivated homeschooling:
Home-schoolers are prosecuted . . . because “[t]he general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religious or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area.”
Konrad, Bundesver-fassungsgericht [Federal Constitutional Court] April 29, 2003, 1 BvR 436/03 (F.R.G.). A.R. 760.
Got that? The public is justified in counteracting minority religious groups. Hilariously, the DOJ expands the very same quote, arguing that the context disproves the quote’s own plain meaning:
Romeike continues to make much of a single line in a German court’s opinion upholding the law here, indicating that the public has an interest in counteracting the development of religious or philosophically motivated “parallel societies.” . . . But one need look no further than the same paragraph from which the “offending” line is drawn to determine that . . . the law has nothing to do with marginalizing Romeike based on any protected status.
The subtle misuse of quotation marks is a nice touch–using them only for the “parallel society,” which should really be a quote within a quote, then coupling it with “offending,” which isn’t a quote at all but a sly way to say yeah right. The impression is that the “parallel society” phrase might merely be the Petitioners’ over-dramatization, rather than, you know, the actual words used by the German court to describe homeschoolers.
If you are still reading this getting-longer-by-the-minute post, you must be ready to see how the expanded quote shows that counteracting is by no means marginalizing, let alone persecuting:
“The general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area. Integration does not only require that the majority of the population does not exclude religious or ideological minorities, but, in fact, that these minorities do not segregate themselves and that they do not close themselves off to a dialogue with dissenters and people of other beliefs. Dialogue with such minorities is an enrichment for an open pluralistic society. The learning and practicing of this in the sense of the experienced tolerance is an important lesson right from the elementary school stage. The presence of a broad spectrum of convictions in a classroom can sustainably develop the ability of all pupils in being tolerant and exercising the dialogue that is a basic requirement of democratic decision-making process.”
For anyone whose eyes keep sliding off this formidable bulwark of progressive platitude (dialog with dissenters! experienced tolerance! sustainably develop!), let me rephrase: we have to be intolerant of you in order to teach your children tolerance.
I can’t help but admire this reasoning. It’s a perfect example of Orwellian doublespeak–a work of art, assuming you can buy the idea that lying is an art.
Now, I’m no fancy German judge nor United States attorney, but I’m pretty sure that a “religiously motivated ‘parallel society’” is a social group. You know, one of those little criterion for being granted asylum in the United States if you have a well-grounded fear of being persecuted for membership in it.
Interestingly, social groups to whom the United States has granted asylum in the past include parents of Burmese student dissidents, Mexican men who identify themselves as women and are sexually attracted to other men, and former members of a Salvadoran street gang. Yet religiously motivated homeschoolers aren’t a social group within the context of asylum?
And threats of jail and loss of your children defo isn’t persecution.
This post has grown too long, the hour has grown too late, and I just used “defo” in a sentence. I need to wrap things up.
You can read more on this case here, and here. You can sign up for the latest updates on the Romeike case and sign a petition here. Or you can bang your head in frustration right here, on this handy-dandy visual representation of what children are to those who believe natural rights do not include the right to educate your own kids: