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Special Report

All-Star Panel: German family's fight to homeshool kids in US

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 2, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: There they are, the Romeikes, a German family, devout Christians. They say they are alarmed about what their children were learning in German schools and they decided to come to the U.S. to homeschool them. It's illegal in Germany. But they were granted asylum here in 2010, but the Obama administration decided to appeal that ruling and the family lost.

The Romeikes could lose custody of the kids if they go back to Germany. Now it appears the U.S. Supreme Court is going to take up this case, and the Obama administration is saying they're not eligible for protection because homeschoolers are not recognized as a social group eligible for protection. We're back with the panel. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, it's a fascinating case. I think it's a testament to the power of homeschoolers here in the United States, that they were able to raise this. And you saw the comments from Michael Ferris earlier to the point where we're now having a national discussion about this and the Supreme Court is taking an interest in it.

What's interesting to me is that the Supreme Court by asking the administration for a response to make some kind of a judgment, as Shannon Bream explained, is essentially signaling that they're interested in the issue. Now it doesn't mean they're going to take it up. But they're signaling they're interested in the issue and they want to potentially weigh in on it in one way or another. So it's entirely possible that we'll see some sort of resolution over this in the coming weeks.

It'll be interesting to see how the Obama administration would handle it diplomatically if the United States serves as, in a sense, a refuge from religious persecution in Germany of all places.

BAIER: Phil writes in this question, "Isn't this the perfect example of religious persecution? Why must one belong to a group to be in consideration?"

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: It's an interesting question. And I think that that's what this case explores, whether you do need to be part of a group or whether you can make this claim of religious persecution as an individual. You know, to get to Steven's point about the Supreme Court, it is not unusual for the Supreme Court to ask the administration to weigh in on a case that the administration has not already weighed in on.

BAIER: And they might not take the case.

HAYES: And they may not take the case. But it is certainly an indication. When they do ask the administration to weigh in on something, it is often an indication it is something they do want to take up and they want to know the administration's position before doing so.

BAIER: Tony Buckley writes in regarding the family, "Is there a winning argument," Charles, "against the administration's position they're taking? And if so, what is it?"

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think the argument is a rather complicated one. It's an interesting one. And I think ultimately it's a question of whether a personal interpretation of your religion would be the grounds for giving you asylum on the grounds of persecution or whether it has to be a widespread one.

For example, if Germany had denied the family the ability to declare the godhood of Christ, it would be no question that would be persecution of a Christian on the grounds of his religion. The question of whether or not the belief that the family has, that to allow a child to go to public school is against the religion because of the corrupt way or anti-religious way that that children are taught, is clearly a minority view, a personal view.

And I'm extremely sympathetic with that family, and I wish it weren't being, you know, persecuted, or having the threat of their children removed. But as a question of our principle of granting asylum, if the court takes it up, it's going to have to decide how widespread a belief has to be to actually be one that the United States would recognize persecution. Otherwise there is a danger of a lot of personal interpretations which it would have to defend and become a huge magnet for asylum requests.

BAIER: I mean, the lawyer is saying the administration has done a lot to stop arrests and deportations of illegal immigrants but yet is actively trying to deport the family.

HAYES: Right. I think Charles is exactly right. The context question actually works in two different ways. You could say on the scale of religious persecution this is not as bad as, say, beheading. But at the same time, 12 million illegals coming in. There's a double standard.

KRAUTHAMMER: But those, I think, are different issues.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for a world competition ahead of the Winter Olympics. Plus the SR Bing Pulse highlights.  

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