The American judiciary ensures equal justice under the law. So what happens when a judge oversteps his bounds? A Mississippi judge found out when he issued an unlawful court order seeking information on all homeschoolers in his five-county district. Mike Farris and Jim Mason report, on today’s Home School Heartbeat.
Mike, how did you decide the best way to proceed against this judge’s order?
Well, Jim, I decided to do that by listening to you, frankly. We decided, jointly, that we were going to sue him in court for a civil rights violation—for violating parents’ constitutional rights of due process, just for starters. But we got a little ways down the road of preparing pleadings in that direction, when you found a case involving Gonzaga University (where, ironically, I went to law school), where the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that the federal law that we were going to be using for our basis for federal jurisdiction did not give private parties a right to sue in federal court. And so, we had to start over. I redrafted the pleadings as a Writ of Prohibition in the Mississippi Supreme Court, to get them to order the judge, basically, to stop doing what he was doing.
Mike, what exactly is a Writ of Prohibition?
It’s like the Far Side cartoon there used to be, where the guy sprayed a can of “Stop It” onto something. You know, you—stop it. You tell the judge, you know, “Cut it out!” And so, it’s a legal order, prohibiting him from doing something; in this case, prohibiting him from enforcing this court order, violating the privacy rights of all the homeschoolers in his counties.
Tune in next time to hear how football practice figured in the Mississippi homeschool case. I’m Jim Mason.