The Similar Suit that Failed

by Howard Richman

[This article first appeared in Issue 87 (summer 2004) of the PENNSYLVANIA HOMESCHOOLERS® newsletter.]

This is not the first time that a court suit has charged that enforcing Pennsylvania's home education law violates the United States Constitution. There was a similar court case, from 1995 to 1998, Lawvere v. East Lycoming School District, in which a Pennsylvania homeschooling family refused to fill out a home education affidavit and then fended off prosecution by filing a Civil Rights suit against their school district in Federal Court.

While the current suits only charge that the home education law violates two amendments (the First and Fourteenth) to the United States Constitution, that suit charged violations of four (the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth) amendments.

Representing themselves, the family first lost in the Middle District Federal Court before Judge Malcolm Muir. Then the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Muir's decision without comment. Then the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the case.The Federal Courts decided that enforcing Pennsylvania's home education law does not violate the United States Constitution.

Although both the current suits and the failed suit have similar claims, there is one huge difference. Instead of representing themselves, the homeschoolers in the current suit will be represented by the excellent lawyers of the Home School Legal Defense Association.


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