Robert Knight

In a remarkably short time, Germany recovered smartly from the wreckage of its defeat in World War II to become the economic strong man of Europe.

Monuments to the nation’s plunge into Nazism remain at Dachau and other death camps as grim reminders of the dangers of an all-powerful state with a messianic leader.

Curiously, one aspect of the old Nazi state that originated in 1918, even before the Nazis took power, remains: a prohibition on home schooling. It seems the current education authorities are willing to enforce this draconian law to keep their monopoly.

A courageous German Christian couple refused to hand over their children to the government schools and fled to America three years ago. Now, the Obama Administration is trying to send them back. A likely outcome would be the state seizing the children and imprisoning the parents.

In December 2010, U.S. Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman granted asylum to Uwe and Hannalore Romeike, who home school their five children (they now have another baby as well). The family is living in Tennessee.

The U.S. Agency for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed an appeal, arguing that homeschoolers are not a fit category for granting asylum. Keep in mind that they bend the law to grant asylum to others, including same-sex partners. The Board of Immigration Appeals overturned Judge Burman’s decision, and the family is fighting deportation.

Romeike v. Holder is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and will be heard on April 23.

In his ruling, Judge Burman declared that Germany’s policy abridges “basic human rights that no country has a right to violate” and is “repellent to everything we believe in as Americans.”

Indeed, the United States has long protected parental rights. In 1925, the Supreme Court in Pierce v. Society of Sisters struck down Oregon’s compulsory attendance law, saying,

“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”

The Obama Administration cited a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which says “the public education laws of Germany do not violate basic human rights.”


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.