The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal Monday from a German family who was seeking asylum in the United States, reports CNN. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike had argued that they were being persecuted by the German government because they wanted to home-school their children.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that claim claim last year. The appeal to the Supreme Court was the last chance for the Romeikes to stay in the country; they could now be deported.
The Home School Legal Defense Association had been representing the family and issued a written statement following the court’s decision. “Although our judicial efforts on behalf of this courageous family are over for now, we are resolved to fight on for them and home-schooling freedom,” the statement read.
"It was the last judicial hope for the family, but we will not give up," said Michael Farris, the family’s lawyer and chairman of the HSLDA.
The Romeikes moved to Morristown, Tenn., in 2008. They left their native Germany because the country requires that children be sent to state-approved schools under compulsory attendance laws. As Christians, the family didn’t want to send their children to the state-mandated schools because those institutions "engendered a negative attitude toward family and parents and would tend to turn their children against Christian values."
The family claims they were facing fines and threats for their decision to home-school their children. They also have claimed that the state will likely take custody of the children if they are forced to return to the country and continue to home-school, according to an AP Story on The Blaze.
While it may be the end of the line, legally, for the Romeike family, Farris says the HSLDA will continue to fight for the rights of all parents who want to home-school children.
“We will pursue changes to the asylum law in this country to insure that religious freedom is once again vigorously protected in our policy,” Farris said in a story on the website Conservative Daily News. "I am just glad that the Pilgrims did not face this anti-religious policy when they landed at Plymouth Rock."
Farris made the argument that the Romeikes, like the Pilgrims, were seeking religious freedom and hoped to find it on this continent. He expressed disappointment in the court’s decision not to uphold those values.
“These are the very values which our nation today has decided to abandon,” he said.
Tennessee state representative Matthew Hill is sponsoring a bill that would list the words “sex offender” in red lettering and in three places on each and every sex offender’s Tennessee driver’s license.
The state currently prints a code on the backs of sex offenders’ driver’s licenses, which discreetly alert police of their status. Anybody is able to search the state’s registry for the names, locations, and photographs of listed offenders.
Hill has said that the law could come in handy at “malls, grocery stores, retail outlets – all kinds of places where children are.”
Tennessee, like most states, already closely regulates the behavior of released sex offenders. In most circumstances, they are required to stay at least 1,000 feet away from schools and day care centers.
Provided that they notify the school or daycare center of their sex-offender status, however, sex offenders are permitted to drop off and pick up their own children from these institutions. They are also allowed to attend meetings with administrators.
Hill has said that he was moved to support the legislation after a voter brought up the issue of sex offenders “dropping into schools and day cares and scooping up their children.” However, Hill also admits he’s never actually heard of such an incident happening.
At a Wednesday meeting, Tennessee House transportation committee chair Representative Vince Dean fought the bill, asking Hill if his intention was to cause an offender “embarrassment if they, say, go to buy a pack of cigarettes or a pack of Copenhagen?”
“It brings to mind,” Dean continued, “that, maybe, a scarlet letter put on his breast might work as well.”
Hill responded, “Well, if you thought that was necessary, that would be fine.”
Hill’s political history and presence has been colorful; he ran for office with an image of a fetus on his campaign fliers, and has entertained the notion that Obama was not born in the U.S. Notably, he has also previously proposed legislation that would force Tennesseans to “exclusively speak English while at work.”
Hill’s motion to make sex offenders’ status more publicly visible is not totally unprecedented. In 1994, New Jersey passed Megan’s Law, which requires that sex offenders publicly register for their crimes. Megan’s Law was sparked by an incident in which a 7-year-old girl was raped and killed by a previously convicted sex offender who had been released.
In 2006, Wisconsin passed a law that would require certain sex offenders to wear electronic ankle bracelets monitored by GPS for the rest of their lives.
Sex-offender registries have “ballooned” in recent years and include people convicted of crimes like public exposure and prostitution. Provisions also designate areas where sex offenders who have served their time are allowed to live, work, and idle in their cars.
Photo Source: http://www.wkrn.com
A Tennessee high school student in Montgomery County has been suspended after school officials found a knife inside his father’s car.
David Duren-Sanner drove his dad’s car to Northeast High School on Thursday morning. His car was chosen to be searched during a random lockdown.
Duren-Sanner agreed to the search since he had nothing to hide, he said.
That’s when officials found a fishing knife. Duren-Sanner’s dad is a commercial fisherman and had left the knife in the car.
When Duren-Sanner tried to explain to school officials and the Sheriff’s department that the car was not his and he didn’t know the knife was in it, they didn’t budge.
“He’s like, ‘It doesn’t matter; it was in your possession anyway,’” Duren-Sanner told News Channel 5.
The school decided to issue the high school senior a ten-day suspension -- the maximum allowed.
Duren-Sanner’s grandmother, Peggy Duren, said all this is a part of the school’s zero-tolerance policy and that the vice principal said, “Guilty until proven innocent.”
The honor roll student now has a lot to worry about: if his punishment is upheld, he will not be able to attend prom, his JROTC ball or participate in the graduation ceremony. His family worries whether this means he will be able to graduate at all.
An appeal hearing for Duren-Sanner will be on Wednesday with the school board.
But his troubles don’t stop there: he also faces weapons charges with Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.
Duren said her grandson has a high grade point average and has never been sent to the principal’s office. But scholarship applications have been halted because his future is now uncertain.
An online petition urging school officials to drop all charges against him and end his suspension has more garnered more than 600 signatures so far.
Many supporters are calling Duren-Sanner’s suspension an overreaction by school officials.
“Just think what this could do to this promising young man’s future,” the petition reads.
A decorated U.S. Navy veteran says he was fired from his job in Tennessee for taking down a torn and weather-beaten American flag.
Rick Heilman, who served for 22 years, says he wanted to replace the flag outside the Yearwood Equipment Company in Fayetteville.
He said he brought it up to the store manager last Friday.
"I said, 'Hey, the flag is pretty torn up out front. Do we have another one to replace it?' And he pretty much bluntly told me no. I said, 'OK, can we take it down until we get a new one?' And he again repeated, 'No,'" Heilman told KLTV
"It grated on me all weekend, and I have served 22 years. I have a lot of friends who have fought and died for it," Heilman said.
“The right thing to do was take it down. And I should have taken it down on Friday,” he said.
So when he came in Tuesday morning, Heilman did just that.
"I went in first thing, and I took the flag down," Heilman said. "And then I folded it up properly the way it should be."
Although the manager bought a flag last weekend to replace the old one, he was still angry with Heilman.
“He said, 'You've not followed my instructions, and you've disrespected my authority and therefore you're fired,'" Heilman recalled.
Heilman says he doesn’t want his job back.
"You know if you give up your integrity, you never get it back," he told WAAY-TV.
He posted on Facebook to let his friends know Yearwood had let him go after the incident. Hundreds of veterans and soldiers reportedly went to the company’s page to stand up for Heilman. Yearwood’s Facebook page has since been deleted.
A 21-year-old children’s minister in Tennessee was suspended by his church when he was charged in the shooting death of his fiancée.
The Jackson police department announced Saturday that Union University student Charles Pittman was charged with the first-degree murder of Olivia Greenlee, 21.
Greenlee was found dead in her car with the doors locked last Tuesday. A 9-mm handgun was found in the vehicle.
Pittman told authorities that Greenlee dropped him off at home Feb. 11, and he was concerned about her emotional state.
"Pittman further indicated that he immediately began texting her and along with an associate began searching for the victim, even notifying the victim's parents who traveled from Dyersburg, to assist in the search efforts," the affidavit said.
He called Union University security on Feb. 12 and asked them to check campus for any signs of Greenlee. Her car was found in a parking lot.
Investigators learned the gun in the car belonged to a friend of Pittman’s, who didn’t realize it had been taken.
Authorities now believe Pittman shot Greenlee and attempted to make it look like the music education student had committed suicide. Video footage from a restaurant where the couple ate on Feb. 11, shows Pittman was not wearing the clothing he told investigators he wore that night.
"Evidence at the scene contradicts Pittman's account of Greenlee's death," the affidavit said. "Investigators believe probable cause exists that Pittman murdered Greenlee."
"This case shows that domestic violence affects people from all different races, religions and socioeconomic statuses," Capt. Tyreece Miller said Saturday.
The couple planned to be married in August.
Sixteen Tennessee residents living at a local motel were kicked out of their rooms with just a few hours' notice on Tuesday.
The former occupants, many of whom are on fixed income and social security, were told by Sunshine Inn management on Tuesday morning that they had until the afternoon to move out.
Sunshine Inn is located in Knoxville, Tennessee. The motel was purchased by Chris Burkhart in 2011. According to the hotel’s manager, the property has been a money pit since its purchase. Motel occupants without inside knowledge of the property’s finances were blindsided by the move.
"I pay my rent. My rent is paid off. I shouldn't get evicted because people don't pay their bills at hotels. That's just nonsense," former Sunshine resident Sutton Woodward said.
On Tuesday, staff members went door to door telling residents they had just a few hours to leave. Construction crews were seen tearing down windows in preparation for the building’s demolition.
The Tenessee Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is stepping in to help the evicted residents. The CAC is doling out more than $3,000 so the former tenants can have a place to stay for the next week at a nearby Days Inn hotel.
"A couple of folks that were elderly, we had folks that had disability. Many of them on fixed incomes, we had only family that was living here," said Mary Goodwin of the CAC.
Residents were told that despite paying their full month’s rent for this month, they may not be reimbursed.
There’s an interesting twist in this story. Renters have rights in Tennessee. A landlord must give a tenant 30 days notice before evicting them. A landlord is also forbidden from turning off utilities at a property if utilities are a part of rent and rent payments are up to date. It looks like the occupants here may be able to take some legal action against Burkhart and Sunshine management if they wish to do so.
Burkhart plans to construct a new building on the lot.
A Tennesssee couple is facing murder charges after they forced a five-year-old girl to drink so much soda that she died.
The couple is identified as Randy and Mary Vaughn of Hawkins County.
The Vaughns' indictments were unsealed on Monday. They have both been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and two counts of aggravated child neglect.
Young Alexa Linboom died in January 2012. It took investigators and medical experts a full two years to determine her exact cause of death. Officials announced last month that Alexa died of acute fluid intoxication causing hyponatremic encephalopathy. Translation: she drank so much fluid it killed her.
The Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department said the Vaughns made Alexa drink more than two liters of soda and water on the day she died. Alexa was allegedly caught drinking her mother’s grape soda. The Vaughns had told her not to drink the soda many times before, and decided her continued disobedience called for a harsh punishment.
Like a parent who makes their child smoke an entire pack of cigarettes to quit smoking, the Vaughns made Alexa drink more than two liters of grape soda. The excess liquid intake caused her brain to swell and herniate, eventually killing her.
District attorney Berkley Bell told court officials the Vaughns failed to care for the child once she was exhibiting clear symptoms of a medical emergency. Alexa was screaming in pain, went into a paralyzed state, and fell unconscious before the Vaughns called 911.
They are currently being held in jail on $500,000 bond.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) recently expressed his "deep" concern about a proposed cemetery for Muslims in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The cemetery would be built by the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, which also faced intense conservative opposition when it was built. The center was hit with lawsuits and vandal attacks for two years before finally opening in 2012, reported The New York Times.
Friends, I have received numerous calls over the last couple of weeks regarding the Murfreesboro mosque cemetery. Although this is a state issue, I am deeply concerned over the impact it might have on our community. Unfortunately the Tennessee Religious Freedom Act, passed by the TN General Assembly, may have played a key role in allowing this cemetery to be approved. There is a difference between legislation that would protect our religious freedoms and legislation that would allow for the circumvention of laws that other organizations comply with on a daily basis.
Rep. DesJarlais also linked his Facebook posting to an article by The Tennessean, which reported that the Muslim cemetery had recently been approved by the Rutherford County Board of Zoning Appeals.
“We have a cemetery,” said Islamic Center of Murfreesboro Imam Ossama Bahloul said after the 3-2 vote.
“Now we can die,” Islamic Center of Murfreesboro board Chairman and founder Essam Fathy joked.
A Tennessee state senator has proposed legislation that would make enforcement of federal gun control measures in the state illegal.
The bill, entitled S.B. 1607, was introduced by State Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), the woman who previously filed the Health Care Freedom and Affordable Care Act Noncompliance Act in an effort to make Obamacare laws illegal to enforce in her home state.
The new bill simply states that federal laws regarding gun-control would not be followed in the state of Tennessee.
“Any federal enactment or federal enforcement action relating to firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition, is void in this state. Any federal enactment or federal enforcement action impacting or infringing upon the rights of individuals or entities relative to firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition, is void in this state,” read portions of the bill, according to Guns.com.
A similar bill was introduced in January of last year in Tennessee’s House of Representatives, as State Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) filed legislation that would arrest and prosecute any federal employee for enforcing federal gun control laws in Tennessee. According to WSMV, the bill failed to clear the House Civil Justice Committee.
The fate of S.B. 1607 remains to be determined, although it’s unlikely that the U.S. federal government would comply with a state that enacted such a law. However, the recent marijuana legalization laws passed in Colorado and Washington signify a direct contradiction to longstanding federal criminal laws, and federal agents have thus far refrained from taking actions against the state. For gun owners in Tennessee wishing to avoid federal prosecution, Sen. Beavers' bill signifies a possible, yet unlikely sense of hope.
Social media is increasingly being used as evidence in criminal cases to convict suspects, but those incidents usually arise when an individual admits to a crime via a platform such as Twitter or Facebook. A recent case in Tennessee signifies the increasing influence of technology over criminal cases, as a man was arrested for “liking” a Facebook post made by a woman who had filed a restraining order against him.
According to RT, a Memphis woman named Towanna Murphy posted a video on Facebook that was “liked” by Thaddeus Matthews. Matthews, a local talk radio host who was formerly involved with Murphy, had a restraining order placed against him by the woman. Murphy took screenshots of her Facebook page and sent them to the police station.
In response to Matthews social media actions, he was arrested and charged with violating a protection order. He was released on a $1,000 bond.
Although the Facebook “like” button seems like an innocuous feature of a social media platform, the feature actually played an integral role in a federal case last year after an employee was fired for not “liking” the campaign page for Hampton, Virginia Sheriff B.J. Roberts. The U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia ultimately found that the “Like” button is covered by the First Amendment and therefore constitutes free speech.
When it comes to restraining orders, however, the “Like” button and other social media actions are viewed differently. According to ABC News, a Massachusetts man was recently jailed for sending a Google Plus invite to his ex-girlfriend, who had filed a restraining order against him.