Supreme Court should hold state responsible for high quality public schools, plaintiffs argue

Lawyers for the state have contended the constitutional language is subjective.
The Florida Supreme Court
The Florida Supreme Court
Published Aug. 9, 2018

Plaintiffs in Florida's long-running education equity lawsuit have urged the state Supreme Court not to fall for the state's effort to evade constitutional responsibility for an "efficient" and "high quality" public school system.

In their latest filing, lawyers representing Citizens for Strong Schools argue that the constitutional terms are not vague, regardless of what lower courts have ruled. They ask the high court to hold that Article IX of the constitution can be judged, set a standard of review for the 1998 language and send it back to the trial court for consideration.

The state's position that Article IX is "aspirational" is "illogical," they continue, noting that the wording was drafted and adopted to be an enforceable right.

"The State asks this Court to ignore both the principles this Court set forth in Bush v. Holmes, 919 So. 2d 392 (Fla. 2006), and the will of the voters who approved the 1998 amendments to Article IX," the lawyers wrote. "This would violate basic principles of constitutional interpretation and democratic choice. The State also asks the Court to apply the lowest possible rational basis standard to the State's compliance with a 'fundamental value' and 'paramount duty,' terms unique in the Florida Constitution to education."

They also request the court to review the state's voucher programs.

The arguments continue to flow back and forth. The documentation has run into the thousands of pages, as several groups have asked to join the case on both sides.

The court has not yet ruled on a separate request to hold oral arguments on the subjects.

Recent coverage: Lawyer suggests oral arguments to clarify mountains of paper in Florida education funding equity case