Peter J. Smith

News

Judge’s request for identities of all homeschoolers shot down

Peter J. Smith

JACKSON, Mississippi, April 27, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Mississippi state judge may not have the names and addresses of homeschooling children in his district, according to a ruling handed down by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

The high court ruled that Judge Joe Dale Walker of the Chancery Court of the Thirteenth District could not enforce an order requiring school attendance officers in five counties to provide him with homeschoolers’ private information.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) intervened after affected families informed the public interest firm that Walker had ordered them on March 23 to comply within 10 days – even though there was no case at hand to justify the request.

“The order has no case number, no county of venue, and lists no parties to any dispute. It appears to be simply information that the judge would like to have,” HSLDA said at the time. “We do not know why Judge Walker is seeking this information, but we believe it is an inappropriate use of judicial power.”

The Supreme Court temporarily stayed Walker’s order on April 6 in order to hear the facts of the case, and demanded Judge Walker to justify his authority to issue that type of order by April 18.

After considering written arguments from both HSLDA attorneys and Walker, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled on April 21, 2011 that the judge could not compel the disclosure of the identities of all the homeschoolers in his district.

The HSLDA says the overall effect of the high court’s order is to “protect the privacy of homeschoolers from overreaching judicial power” which it emphasized “is a violation of the separation of powers set up by the Mississippi and federal Constitutions.”

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