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Michael Farris

Michael ("Mike") P. Farris (born August 27, 1951) is a United States constitutional lawyer. He is a founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and Patrick Henry College.

Personal life and education

Farris graduated magna cum laude, with a degree in political science, from Western Washington University (formerly Western Washington State College). He received his Juris Doctor and was an honors graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington.

He married in 1971 and has ten children and ten grandchildren. He and his wife Vickie began home schooling in 1982, leading him to establish the Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983.

He was also ordained as a Baptist minister in 1983.

Career and achievements

In 1983 Farris founded the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), for which he is chairman and general counsel as of 2005. His efforts resulted in a number of court rulings and changes in law involving home schooling.

He also founded Patrick Henry College, which opened its doors in 2000, specifically for home-schooled Christian students. He held the positions of president and professor of Government from 2000 to 2006. Farris resigned his position as president of HSLDA to take on these new roles. In March 2006, Farris stepped down from the position of president to become chancellor of the college.

He has been appointed by the Governor of Virginia to serve on the Board of Visitors for Mount Vernon (the home of George Washington).

Farris is also the author of several books on homeschooling and family as well as the book From Tyndale to Madison, published in 2007. He has also written a few novels.

Education Week named Farris one of the most significant 100 "Faces of the Century."

Legal and political career

As a lawyer, Farris's cases include over 40 reported decisions as lead counsel. These decisions were given by the United States Supreme Court, five U.S. circuit courts of Appeal, seven state Supreme Courts, and five state Courts of Appeal. Farris successfully argued for the petitioner in a religious freedom case, the Supreme Court case Witters v. Washington Department of Services For the Blind in 1985-1986.

In 1993, Farris ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor of Virginia and was defeated by Democrat Don Beyer — 54-46 percent. However, fellow Republicans George Allen, Jr., and James Gilmore were elected on the same ballot as governor and attorney general, respectively. Farris' close connection to conservative leaders like Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority, Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition, and Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, stirred deep-seated feelings about religion and politics. These concerns inflamed by negative ads by Beyer to portray him even more radically, likely caused alienation of enough moderate voters to lose him the election. There was also soreness among Virginia Republicans for U.S. Senator John Warner's lack of support for Farris.

Farris was the founder and chairman of the Madison Project, a political action committee. He is also the founder of Generation Joshua, an organization for the mobilization of Christian youth to participate in politics and get out the vote. In 2007, he founded, a parental rights advocacy group.


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