The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the Obama administration to officially respond to a German family’s deportation appeal in a complicated case involving religious freedom, parental rights and education.
The Romeike family, who are evangelical Christians, have made headlines with their years-long struggle to homeschool their children.
After fleeing Germany and arriving in the U.S. in 2008, the family had hoped to practice their faith and educate their children freely, but the U.S. government decided to deport Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their six children.
Now, with stakes high, the Romeikes are fighting to remain in the U.S. If they are sent back to Germany and continue to homeschool, the parents could lose their children or risk government fines, The Christian Post reported.
The Home School Legal Defense Association, an organization devoted to protecting homeschooling rights, has taken up the Romeikes’ case and has appealed a previous court decision ruling in favor of the Obama administration.
While there’s no guarantee that the Supreme Court will hear the family’s last-ditch appeal case, the notion that the justices want Attorney General Eric Holder to weigh in shows a level of interest and seemingly ups those chances, the Post reported.
The Home School Legal Defense Association said it’s encouraged by the development.
“The government initially waived its right to respond, apparently thinking that Romeike v. Holder wasn’t worthy of the court’s consideration,” James Mason, litigation director of the Home School Legal Defense Association, told Charisma News. “Clearly, someone in the Supreme Court disagrees. While the odds of the court taking any case are very low, this has increased the chances—but it is impossible to predict whether the court will ultimately accept the case.”
The Justice Department reportedly has until Dec. 19 to respond, though Holder could request an extension.
The Supreme Court’s order comes after the Obama administration previous skirted opportunities to respond to the controversial case. As TheBlaze reported in August, officials issued a sparse reaction to an official petition posted on whitehouse.gov — a plea that urged the government to protect the family.
The petition, posted on the White House’s We the People website in March, asked federal officials to grant the family “full and permanent legal status” and “the same freedom our forefathers sought.” The government declined to offer perspective, specifically citing that it cannot comment on issues that are before the courts. The petition garnered more than 127,000 signatures.
The latest developments in the case come after a seven-year battle. The Romeike family’s problems first began in 2006 when they pulled their children out of public school in Germany and were subsequently fined by the government and threatened with legal action. Two years later, they fled to the U.S. in an effort to freely educate their children. Homeschooling has been illegal in Germany since 1918.
As TheBlaze previously reported, an immigration judge granted the parents and children asylum in 2010, but the U.S. government appealed, arguing that laws against homeschooling don’t constitute human rights infractions.
Despite the family’s claim that a return to Germany would mean fines and potential jail time, an immigration review board agreed with the government, and the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the family’s push for a new hearing. Now, the Romeikes’ fate is in the hands of the Supreme Court.
The Home School Legal Defense Association created a video about the family’s story:
(H/T: Christian Post)