Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Minnesota Court of Appeals Holds that Education Quality Suit Raises Nonjusticiable Political Question.
In a case of first impression in the Minnesota appellate courts, the state court of appeals recently reversed a trial court's refusal to dismiss to dismiss a class-action lawsuit that claimed that economic and racial segregation led to students being denied their state constitutional right to an adequate education. The Minnesota Court of Appeals found that the suit's claims required the court to define what was an adequate education, which in the court's view presented a nonjusticiable political question. The class action plaintiffs alleged that hyper-segregated schools” throughout Minnesota is a per se violation of the Minnesota State Constitution's Education Clause (article XIII, sec. 1) and that children of color and children in poorer districts receive an inadequate education by "any objective standards." The district court below refused to dismiss the plaintiffs' claims on the merits. In reversing that decision, the court of appeals wrote that the definition of adequate education is a standard specifically assigned to the state legislature and would require the court to make an initial policy decision in an area under legislative control. Citing precedent, the appellate court noted, "we deem judicial review of educational policy inappropriate." The case is Cruz-Guzman v. State, No. A16-1265, 2017 WL 957726 (Minn. Ct. App. Mar. 13, 2017).