Section Description Provided by Instructor
In its 1973 decision in San Antonio Independent Sch. Dist. v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1, a case that focused on equity in school funding, the U.S. Supreme Court held that education is not a "fundamental interest" under the U.S. Constitution. The Court nevertheless indicated that although education is nowhere mentioned in the federal constitution, all American students should be provided the basic level of education that they need to become capable voters and to exercise their First Amendment free speech rights. The Court left open for another day the question of what that basic level of education should be. The New York Court of Appeals and a majority of other state supreme courts throughout the country have specifically held that preparing students to function productively as civic participants is the primary or a primary purpose of public education, but none of these courts has taken any steps to enforce or implement these rulings.
As the 2016 election campaign demonstrated, America's schools have done a poor job in recent decades of preparing students to be capable voters and engaged civic participants. The premise of this course is that the courts should declare and enforce students' rights to an education that prepares them to be capable citizens at both the federal and state levels.
This course will begin with an overview of the role of the courts in institutional reform litigations and the relationship of such litigations to effective social reform. Case study examples of both federal and state court education reform cases will be used to illustrate the problems and potential of the implementation of judicial reforms. The course will then focus on the substantive issues and legal strategies involved in attempting to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling in the Rodriguez case by closely analyzing two currently pending federal litigations, Gary B. Snyder, 313 F.Supp.3d 852 (2018), appeal pending, Sixth Circuit, and Cook v. Raimondo, a case currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, and in which the instructor is lead counsel for the plaintiffs. ( For more information about Cook v. Raimondo and copies of the litigation papers filed to date, see, www.cookvraimondo.info.)
Additional Experiential Credit: Seminar students will have the option to apply to the Professor for additional experiential credit for assisting with researching and drafting briefs and involvement in other matters related to the Rhode Island case. Students taking this option will earn 2 additional credits for 10 hours of work per week on this case.
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Minor (automatic), Major (only upon consultation) (Students have an option to write a paper for minor or major writing credit instead of taking the exam. Major papers may receive additional credit.)