Republican lawmakers want Detroit school decision tossed
The Michigan Legislature is asking a federal appeals court to set aside a groundbreaking decision that recognized a constitutional right to education and literacy in Detroit schools.
The House and Senate are controlled by Republicans, who said managing K-12 education is a job for state and local officials, not the federal judiciary. Lawmakers are asking the full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reopen the case and start over.
Cases are heard by three-judge panels at the appeals court. But the full court also has the power to take a vote, set aside a decision and hear arguments with multiple judges again if a case “involves a question of exceptional importance.”
On April 23, the court said students at poor performing, dilapidated Detroit schools are entitled to a basic minimum education under the U.S. Constitution. The 2-1 decision could lead to millions of dollars in new spending in the years ahead.
“No one would say that the Detroit public schools are performing at the level they should,” said John Bursch, an attorney who filed the petition for the House and Senate. “But the answers for solving that problem cannot come from federal court supervision based on the creation of fundamental rights that no one would have recognized in the text of the (constitution’s) due process clause.”
Separately, state school board members Tom McMillin and Nikki Snyder, both Republicans, also want the case reconsidered.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, replaced Republican Gov. Rick Snyder as a defendant in the lawsuit after she was elected in 2018. It’s not known if Whitmer will ask the court to take a second look.