Framers’ views ‘irrelevant’ in Florida education funding case, state lawyers argue

Members of the 1998 Constitution Revision Commission seek to intervene in the 9-year-old lawsuit.
The Florida Supreme Court
The Florida Supreme Court
Published June 1, 2018|Updated June 1, 2018

Efforts by some members of the 1998 Florida Constitution Revision Commission should not influence the state Supreme Court's role in a 9-year-old school funding lawsuit based on that commission's work, lawyers for the state Department of Education, Legislature and Attorney General's Office argue.

In a brief filed Friday, the state lawyers contend that input from the "framers" of the language in question is "irrelevant" to the issue at hand in the Citizens for Strong Schools case.

Lower courts have ruled against the plaintiffs' complaint that the state has not met the constitutional requirement for funding public education, deemed a "paramount duty" in amendments adopted through the revision process of 20 years ago.

The judges stated that requirements such as a "high quality" education are subjective, and therefore not open to judicial review. The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court.

The 1998 CRC members submitted a brief in late May aiming to clarify their intentions for the suit. The state's attorneys responded that such an intervention would serve no purpose.

"The purported 'legal analysis' that these individuals ask to provide, like their recollections of their personal experiences on the 1998 CRC, are irrelevant to deciding whether the constitutional language at issue provides judicially manageable standards," they wrote.

"And even if these members' views were somehow relevant, their testimony should have been presented during the four-week trial below, where they would have been subject to cross-examination, where the circuit court could have weighed their personal opinions against the rest of the evidence—including testimony from dozens of other witnesses."

Read the state's latest brief for more details.