To the disappointment of many home-schooling supporters, the U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it would not consider the case of a German family seeking asylum in the U.S. because they cannot teach their children at home in Germany.
The leader of a home-school advocacy group said that while “normal” legal battles are exhausted, he and others would seek other avenues to support Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their six children.
“We will pursue changes to the asylum law in this country to ensure that religious freedom is once again vigorously protected in our policy,” said Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which has been representing the family.
Political supporters include Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, who is scheduled to address an Iowa home-school event in Des Moines later this month.
The devoutly Christian Romeikes came to the U.S. in 2008 amid fears that by not sending the five children they had then to state-approved schools in Germany, they would be forced to pay substantial fines and even lose custody of their children.
Their request for asylum was granted in 2010 by an immigration judge.
However, that judgment was overturned by an immigration panel, which said the family was not persecuted and was not eligible for asylum under federal guidelines.
The family, which lives in Tennessee, appealed to a federal appellate court, saying Germany’s compulsory-attendance law violates international human rights standards. But the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also denied them asylum.
In October, the Romeikes appealed to the Supreme Court. On Monday, the high court rejected without comment their petition to hear the case.
The Obama administration has stood against the family, asking federal courts to side with Germany and its law, since it is enforced for all families.
In one Department of Justice brief, the Obama administration noted that Germany is seeking to create “an open, pluralistic society.”
Requiring children of all backgrounds to be taught in state-approved schools assists in the goal of promoting socialization, pluralism, tolerance and democracy, the Justice Department said.
Home-schoolers have argued the case among themselves, with some observers noting that several countries in the European Union permit home-schooling and the family could relocate in Europe.
But many home-school supporters believe that if parents’ decisions to educate their children aren’t upheld, a fundamental human right has been breached.
The Romeikes’ plans were not immediately known.