Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It's Risky to Go into the Weeds but Sometimes You Have No Choice

In an article (
 he wrote in July 2014, Michael Farris, Chairman of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), said that the new reservations, understandings, and declarations (RUDs), which are part of the resolution passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee July 22, 2014, are not strong enough to protect the right of parents to homeschool their children with disabilities.

First, he quotes a Congressional Research Service article from 2001. It defines the differences among reservations, understandings, and declarations. I have to admit that these dated definitions appear weak, confusing, and of questionable value. That said, there have been other views written and stated by legal scholars more recently as well as more recent Supreme Court decisions that strongly suggest RUDs have legal value (see my posts for 10/12/13 and 6/4/14).

Second, although Farris doesn't like the CRPD, he raises the fact that the U.S. ignored the provisions in a treaty the U.S. has ratified (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)) when it attempted to deport a  homeschooling German family, who had overstayed its visa. The U.S. Government came to its senses and is now letting the family remain here. If they had gone back to Germany, the parents could have been jailed. I supported the German family being allowed to stay here (blog post 10/5/13).

Well, it seems that Farris likes the words in some treaties, but not the CRPD. There are two provisions on homeschooling in the new resolution on the CRPD. Farris could recommend some text from his Constitutional amendment on parents' rights (blog post 11/8/13). He could recommend text from the ICCPR. Either could be a framework for a conversation for an amendment to the resolution.

Farris implies that government officials cannot be trusted and they will use treaty obligations in nefarious ways. When in court making the case for the German family to stay here, his legal team used various laws and treaties to make the case. This is the way of lawyers, throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. So, Farris uses treaties when it suits him. He doesn't mind challenging the states' right to educate by proposing a constitutional amendment when it suits him.

I think it is misguided and bordering on tragic that ratification of the CRPD can be high jacked by a single-issue force that selectively uses facts.

In this week before the election please talk to your Senators. If either Senator supports the CRPD, ask him or her to ask Majority Leader Reid for a floor vote. If not, ask him to vote for the CRPD.

Thank you.
Common Grounder