Michael P. Farris is president, CEO, and general counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom. In January 2017, he became only the second person to occupy that position in the organization’s 23-year history. He brings to the role a remarkably diverse background as an effective litigator, educator, public advocate, pastor, and communicator, and wide recognition for his successful work on both the national and international stage.
Farris was founding president of both the Home School Legal Defense Association (1983) and Patrick Henry College (2000) and continues to serve as chairman of the board of HSLDA and chancellor emeritus of PHC.
He graduated from Western Washington State College, magna cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, followed by a Juris Doctor from Gonzaga University (with honors). At Gonzaga, he was articles editor of the Law Review and winner of the Linden Cup Moot Court Competition. He also earned an LL.M. in Public International Law (with honors) from the University of London.
Farris has specialized in constitutional appellate litigation. In that capacity, he has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, eight federal circuit courts of appeals, and in the highest courts of 13 states. He is also the author of numerous amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court.
A fixture on Capitol Hill for over 30 years, Farris has testified many times before both the House and Senate. He was an executive committee member of the Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion that successfully lobbied Congress for the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and served as co-chairman of the drafting committee that wrote the law.
Farris also has substantial experience in international human rights advocacy. He served for nearly a decade on the board of Christian Solidarity International—a Swiss-based human rights organization. He served as International Vice President of CSI for a number of years and participated in missions to the former Soviet Union and Romania. He has also engaged in private diplomatic missions to China and the Czech Republic.
Farris is nationally known as a pioneering leader of the modern homeschooling movement. His leadership of HSLDA has taken him to nearly every state and a growing number of other nations.
As the founding president of Patrick Henry College, he helped launch a highly regarded Christian educational institution founded on a strong commitment to biblical truth and the classical liberal arts, the twin pillars of education for the founding generations of the United States. At PHC, Farris has taught constitutional law, public international law, and coached the Moot Court team to nine national championships between 2004 and 2016. Although PHC is an undergraduate college, Farris’s team competed against law schools (including Yale) in the 2016 Nelson Mandela Human Rights Moot Court Championship. At the tournament, held at the UN in Geneva, PHC won the World Championship.
Farris is the author of over 15 books, as well as law review and other scholarly articles, and countless pieces for the popular press. He has appeared on every national television network, dozens of talk shows, and played himself in a motion picture. He is the author and narrator of a popular video series entitled Constitutional Literacy, and co-host of a daily radio show, “Homeschool Heartbeat,” which airs on nearly a thousand stations.
His work has been recognized by a number of awards, including the Heritage Foundation’s Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship, and a lifetime achievement award from the Virginia Family Foundation. For his work in home education, Education Week Magazine named him one of the top 100 “Faces in Education” for the 20th century. He and his wife, Vickie, have 10 children and 19 grandchildren.