Michael Farris of HSLDA fame recently came out against Ron Paul, attacking him as anti-homeschooling due to Paul’s stance against federalism and supposed improper understanding of the role of the 14th amendment. There may be a valid argument here on how the 14th and 10th amendments interact — but its not an area where I currently feel knowledgeable enough to make a comment. Leaving that discussion aside there is still much wrong in Farris’ post. I’m pasting Farris’ argument below in full for your perusal, and then I comment on two misunderstandings or misrepresentations in Farris’ post and one place where Farris is blatantly WRONG.
Ron Paul is an enemy of the legal principles that the homeschooling movement has used successfully to defend our freedom to teach our own children. He recently said that he does not believe that the 14th Amendment trumps the 10th Amendment. He said this is an abortion context (which proves that he is not politically pro-life) but, let’s examine what this means in a homechooling context.
In the 1920s, the State of Oregon banned all private education. This Oregon law was challenged as a violation of the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause prohibited states from banning private education because this overrode parental rights in an unconstitutional fashion.
If Ron Paul’s philosophy were applied to this case, then Oregon’s law would have prevailed under the 10th Amendment.
The case I won before the Supreme Court of Michigan for homeschooling freedom was based on the 14th Amendment. The federal constitutional principles of religious freedom and parental rights overrode the power of Michigan to require homeschoolers to all be certified teachers.
The homeschool victory that I argued before the Court of Appeal of California when that court had previously ruled that homeschooling was illegal in that state–was based on the 14th Amendment.
I could go on.
Home schooling would be legal in about 3 states in this country today if Ron Paul’s view of the Constitution was actually practiced by the Supreme Court.
So I have a quesxtion for all of the members of Homeschoolers for Ron Paul: Do you agree with Ron Paul that the states have the exclusive authority over the legality of homeschooling and the 14th Amendment provides no constitutional right to homeschool?
How can you support a candidate who denies the very constitutional principle that our movement used to win our freedom?
Supporting Ron Paul in the name of homeschooling is like supporting Barack Obama in the name of reducing the national debt.
Here is where Farris goes wrong:
Farris appears to ignore Ron Paul’s principle against strong federal power, and how it is more often used to remove liberty and rights. Roe v. Wade on abortion is a prime example — in that case the supreme court legalized abortion based on the same 14th amendment principle which Farris lauds for legalizing homeschooling. In the case of homeschooling, strong federal power was used for a good purpose, while in the case of abortion it was used for evil. Paul’s contention would be that such power is dangerous and should be restricted to the handful of cases delegated to the federal government in the constitution. It seems Farris thinks otherwise.
Farris contends that without this 14th amendment power, there would be perhaps three states with legal homeschooling. His argument here is dubious. Removing this power from the federal level does eliminate the quick fix that was used to permit homeschooling, but it does not follow that homeschooling would have remained banned in the 47 other states without federal involvement. Instead we would then have more work: either a potential battle in each state to overturn bad law, or a constitutional amendment making parental rights explicit (something which Farris is even now advocating). So, indeed it is possible that homeschooling would not have become legal in every state, but his assertion that otherwise it would only be legal in three states is extremely suspect.
Please also note, that as a corollary to the first point, there would be benefit in areas of current bad federal law — proponents of evil would also have to fight their battles state by state.
Farris’ statement that Paul is “not politically pro-life” is undeserved and reflects poorly on Farris. Abortion has been used as a “convenient thing to be against to rally the base” by moderate republicans for years. A politician can be anti-abortion, gain votes, then do nothing of substance since everyone assumes that abortion can only be overturned by the Supreme Court. Indeed the politician only needs to make proper noises during supreme court nominations or perhaps sponsor some bill to require parental notification / cut a few days off of late term abortions / etc.
The end result? Nothing gets done, and we can look forward to the indefinite continuation of this state. Fortunately, as Paul points out, this “wish I could, but I can’t do anything” state of affairs is a lie, and abortion could have been made illegal in some states years ago, by a simple vote in congress to remove federal court jurisdiction. Yes, this is not a perfect solution, but saving some babies is better than none, and this outcome is much better than what Christians have been duped into accepting these past almost 40 years. Once that restriction on jurisdiction has been passed, Paul suggests we could start working on a constitutional amendment to make abortion explicitly illegal throughout the US. To call Paul not pro-life shows either lack of knowledge of his superior policies in the area (in which case Farris is not qualified to comment), or it shows Farris to be a liar.
Clearly the argument against Paul is not as clear cut as Farris would have us believe. I wish Farris had explained his 14th amendment objections (why it is proper to apply it to homeschooling and why the 10th amendment does not apply). That would be a much better and informative debate. Instead Farris has at a minimum failed to show an understanding of the policies he criticizes, and in fact makes it seem he in some ways supports the same big government federalism which brought us disasters such as Roe v. Wade. This response is truly sad since Farris has done much good for the homeschooling community.