Home School Court Report
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May / June 2003

A season to encourage

Burnt toast & sticky cards

A letter to my parents

The spiritual power of a mother
National Center hosts 2003 Summit
Farris addresses social workers

Along the way

Homeschool litigation: preparing the way
Freedom Watch

What's ahead in 2003?
From the heart
Across the states
Active Cases
Members only
About Campus
President's page

Good judges make good decisions


Prayer & Praise

a contrario sensu (on the other hand)

HSLDA legal contacts for November/December 2002



Good judges make good decisions

J. Michael Smith, President of Home School Legal Defense Association
Home School Legal Defense Association is organized and operated exclusively to promote and preserve the fundamental, God-given constitutional right of parents and others legally responsible for minor children, to responsibly control the education of their children. Through all of our activities, we seek not only to preserve this fundamental, God-given right to educate our children at home but also to promote homeschooling and bless the homeschool movement.

HSLDA is chartered as a non-profit organization under 501(c)4 of the Federal Code of Procedure. Under this provision, HSLDA cannot endorse or work for or enhance the ability of political candidates to be elected to office. However, 501(c)4 organizations can lobby issues and legislation with an attempt to influence.

We may assist other organizations that have a similar purpose in carrying out their goals and objectives as well. We are authorized to advocate on behalf of our purpose in the courtrooms, before governmental officials, and in the public arena. One of the issues upon which we can advocate is the appointment of judges.

Much of what we do is obvious in advancing our purpose. For instance, when HSLDA defends a homeschool family in court, we are arguing to preserve their God-given right to teach their children at home. Where we can win and set good precedent, we try to help all other homeschoolers, depending on the jurisdiction of the court. If an HSLDA member family wins a court case at the state supreme court level, every homeschooler in that state may benefit from a single favorable decision.

When HSLDA testifies before a legislative body regarding proposed legislation that affects this fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of our children, we are advocating in support of our purpose.

Why should homeschoolers care?

On March 5, 2003, HSLDA directed a communication via our e-lert service to subscribers concerning the Senate's confirmation of Miguel Estrada, who was nominated to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush. The purpose of this article is not to reiterate the pros and cons of Estrada's nomination, but to address several questions raised by our members regarding why we sent out this alert and request for action.

When HSLDA underwrites research establishing that homeschoolers test on the average 30 percentile points above their public school counterparts, such statistics help us demonstrate to legislators that home education works and is a good thing for the welfare of their state and our nation.

When we advocate in the judicial area, we do so because of the important role courts play in our freedoms. There are two foundational cases upon which our freedom to direct the education of our children rests. First, the United States Supreme Court ruled that parents did not have to send their children to public school in the case of Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925). The state of Oregon had required that all students, including those enrolled in religious private schools, attend public schools. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that children were not mere creatures of the state and that parents have a constitutional right to choose private education for their children.

The second key case was Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), also decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Yoder, an Amish family was prosecuted for truancy because, in accordance with Amish religious beliefs, these parents wanted their children exempted from the public school's formal education program after 8th grade to be instructed at home. The Supreme Court ruled that the family had a fundamental, constitutional right to train and educate their children at home, which was supported by the decision in Pierce establishing parental rights under the Constitution. The Court ruled that because of the parents' religious beliefs, the state could not require their children to attend school. States must recognize that homeschooling is a constitutionally protected right.

Judges play a pivotal role in HSLDA's efforts to advance homeschool freedom. How a judge views the role of government is relevant to our continued freedom to homeschool. Strict constructionists typically uphold the principles of limited government, which leads to more freedom for the people, and especially freedom for home educating families to direct the upbringing and education of their children.

The President has indicated that his appointees must be strict constructionists in terms of interpreting the Constitution. This means they don't "read in" rights not clearly set forth in the Constitution, but are respectful of fundamental rights our Founding Fathers held dear regarding the integrity of the family and parents making decisions regarding how their children were to be raised and educated. It is HSLDA's belief, based upon the legal principles that the President has enunciated for his nominees, that Mr. Estrada would be respectful of parental rights and homeschool freedoms.

As an organization, HSLDA is not political in the sense that we cannot advance candidates for office. But we are issues-driven in recognizing that freedom is the key ingredient to maintaining and advancing home education. Where we can, we will attempt to advance those freedoms in every arena that we can legally do so. We believe our members are entitled to this type of advocacy.