German Homeschool Case Will Not Be Heard in Supreme Court

From the March 3 Supreme Court Orders List:

The motion of Alliance Defending Freedom, et al. for leave to file a brief as amici curiae is granted. The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Since 2010, this case has been bounced upwards across the courtrooms in the eastern half of the United States.  The Obama administration, with Attorney General Eric Holder leading, appealed the original Memphis Immigration Court decision giving the German family political asylum in the United States.  The case was overturned and despite a petition to reconsider all the way to the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice won.

Cornell’s Legal Information Institute explaining the legal term – writs of certiorari.

A word from Law Latin, meaning “to be more fully informed.”  If an appellate court has the power to review cases at its discretion, certioari is the formal instrument by which that power gets used.  A writ of certiorari orders a lower court to deliver its record in a case so that the higher court may review it.  The U.S. Supreme Court uses certiorari to pick most of the cases that it hears.


The U.S. Supreme Court gives full consideration to but a small fraction of the cases it has authority to review. With many important categories of cases, the party seeking Supreme Court review does so by “petitioning” the Court to issue a “writ of certiorari.” (See, e.g., 28 U.S.C. §§ 125412572350.) (Note: Some state appeals courts — e.g., Ala., Ark., Colo., Conn., Fla., Ga., La., N.J. — employ the same terminology.) If the Court decides to review one or more issues in such a case it grants “certiorari” (often abbreviated as “cert.”). If the Court decides not to review the case it denies “cert.”

While a decision to deny cert. lets the lower court’s ruling stand, it does not constitute a decision by the Supreme Court on any of the legal issues raised by the case.

Many have criticized the family for seeking political asylum in the United States, rather than living in a European country more lenient to homeschooling. I suspect much of the criticism stems from HSLDA’s involvement with the case and the suspicion the homeschool community is being used to increase international business.

Campbell Robertson reported in the New York Times that HSLDA’s lack of success litigating cases in Germany determined their notion of petitioning for political asylum.

In 2006, after the European Court of Human Rights declined to hear a petition by home-schooling parents that had failed in German courts, lawyers at the association decided to add a political line of attack to the legal one, both to raise awareness of the German policies and to find some broader solution to the issue.

At a brainstorming session, one of the lawyers, Jim Mason, came up with the idea of petitioning for political asylum.

“I don’t know German law or German courts,” Mr. Mason said, “but I do know American courts.”

In this case, that idea did not play out well in the long run of US courts and the current political environment.  But, for the Romeike family, another alternative is their children born in the United States would surely afford residency rights via the citizenship clause from the Fourteenth Amendment.  Deportation does not seem likely, but I am definitely not a lawyer.  

What is more alarming to me in the bigger picture is the report from The Blaze:

The HSLDA says it is already working with “supportive members of Congress to introduce legislation that could help the Romeikes and others who flee persecution.”

HSLDA has been responsible for atrocious homeschool legislation in various states and in federal legislation.  Several years back, the group tried introducing “home school” legislation in Illinois and the idea was ‘chased’ out of Springfield by homeschoolers. A small minority of our tiny, but growing homeschool minority are HSLDA members.  That fact, besides having Virginia lawyers creating legislation is troubling.

What sort of legislation could this Virginia organization create to “protect us” in this current state of political affairs?

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