Homeschool families protected by Mississippi Supreme Court from unconstitutional court order

Overreaching Judge Overruled

By —— Bio and Archives--April 26, 2011

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PURCELLVILLE, Va.,  The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled1 on April 21, 2011 that a court order issued by Judge Walker requiring state officials to disclose the identities of all the homeschoolers in the Thirteenth District of Mississippi was improper and thus vacated by the higher court. The Supreme Court came to its conclusion after receiving HSLDA’s Writ of Prohibition and Emergency Motion to Stay, Judge Walker’s response, and HSLDA’s response memorandum.

Without due cause, a case in consideration, or even a complaint before his court, Judge Walker of the Chancery Court of the Thirteenth District in Mississippi issued a court order on March 23, 2011. This order required attendance officers in five counties to provide Judge Walker with a list of the names and addresses of all homeschoolers in those counties.

This order would have provided Judge Walker with information that he was not legally entitled to as a judge, and homeschool families who would have been affected by this judicial overreach contacted the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). An HSLDA team made up of Michael Farris, Jim Mason, and local counsel Sharkey Burke began work on the case. As others advocated backroom deals and “under the radar” retreats, HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris wrote a bold Writ of Prohibition and Emergency Motion to Stay for the Supreme Court of Mississippi and local counsel Sharkey Burke filed it within two days.

The following day, the Supreme Court of Mississippi halted the enforcement of the order and instructed Judge Walker to respond to the motion by April 18. Judge Walker’s response was received on April 18, and HSLDA filed a response memorandum on April 19.

On April 20, 2011, the Supreme Court of Mississippi ruled in favor of HSLDA’s motion and vacated the order by Judge Walker. The effect of the order is to protect the privacy of homeschoolers from overreaching judicial power and is a violation of the separation of powers set up by the Mississippi and federal Constitutions. We are grateful to the families who assisted us in standing against the court order.

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