Judge Gary A Stewart served the county on the bench of the 57th District Court for over 25 years. He retired 1 January 2006, leaving the last year of his term of office unserved. He had been serving in that role since 1975.
Judge Stewart provided the first victory in what would lead to a larger-scale freedom to homeschool. In the 1970s, Peter & Ruth Nobel were prosecuted for violating the compulsory attendance law because they were homeschooling their children using a formal curriculum (Christian Liberty Academy) but were not state-certified teachers. The State of Michigan was asserting that certified teachers were required for all home schools in order to be deemed “a proper school under the law.” Attorney John Whitehead, who later started the Rutherford Institute, came to Michigan and defended the Nobels. Judge Stewart heard the case and issued an opinion ruling in favor of the Nobels based upon the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
- “Many Candidates Seek Judge Seats in Ottawa, Allegan,” MediaMouse (29 Mar 2006).
- Michigan Homeschool History (May 2003); online: http://www.homeschoolbuilding.org/Item.php3?id=2283