Friday, December 01, 2006

Contempt of Court: Widespread Outrage as Court Retakes Control Over State Education

State officials from the executive and legislative branches were barely able to conceal their rage as the State Supreme Court Voted 5-2 to take back up the Lakeview School Funding case. The court has re-appointed "special masters" for the rest of Arkansas government. Justices Hannah and Gunter dissented on the court's decision in unusually strong language.

The gauntlet has been thrown down
. Now the other two branches must either take strong action to check the courts, or be permanently under their boot heel. It is time to take this contest between branches to the ultimate authority in this state: the people. That can be done by means of a constitutional amendment. The only time the legislature can refer a constitutional amendment is during a regular session. If they don't do it now, they will have to wait two more years before they can act.

Ledge, for the good of the Republic, step up and do battle. Refer the appropriate amendments and work to get them passed. Two amendments are needed. One amendment that allows for the impeachment of state supreme court justices by the legislature for attempted usurpation of power of the other branches, and another that makes it clear that the legislature, not the courts, decide what levels of funding for education are "constitutional".

CONTINUED: To read some of the strong commentary from leaders around the state on this ruling click "FRIDAY" below and scroll down, or if sent straight here just scroll down.


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...


From the Morning News today, Governor Mike Huckabee, whose past position was that we had no choice but to comply with the courts:

"Gov. Mike Huckabee said the court was "out of control" and accused the justices of "usurping the constitutionally stated limitations and separations of powers."

"This court is out of compliance, not the General Assembly," the governor said. "We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars, carried out studies of adequacy and facilities, closed failing schools and rewritten standards. Our state is receiving praise across the nation for reform and it appears everyone but our Supreme Court can see it. I'm disgusted with them and proud of the Legislature."

Governor Elect Mike Bebee, also from the Morning News:

Attorney General Mike Beebe said the ruling was a disappointment, noting that the court neither ordered nor requested any further reports from the state when it last ruled on the case in December 2005.

"After the completion of April's special legislative session, the court remained silent, expressing no concerns or dissatisfaction with the steps taken by the General Assembly," added Beebe, the governor-elect. "It is only after an 11th-hour filing by a handful of districts that the court has spoken.

"Without evidence in that filing of any failures in continued reform efforts by the State, the court has nonetheless decided to defy its own previous procedures and keep this case open."


The majority opinion claims that it is not the court’s intention to monitor the upcoming session of the General Assembly, yet that is exactly what it will be doing by granting the Intervenors/appellees’ motion. This court has previously pronounced that it is "not this court’s constitutional role to monitor the General Assembly on an ongoing basis over an extended period of time until the educational programs have all been completely implemented[.]" Lake View Sch. Dist. No. 25 v. Huckabee, 358 Ark. 137, 161, 189 S.W.3d 1, 17 (2004). However, each and every time that this court appoints the masters and reviews the legislature’s actions, it acts as a "brooding" super-legislature, the very action which this court sought to avoid when it released jurisdiction and issued the mandate in 2004 when compliance with our mandates was well underway. Id. at 160, 189 S.W.3d at 16.

In complete contradiction of this court’s very clear pronouncements to the contrary, the majority is again retaining jurisdiction of this case and continuing to monitor the legislature’s actions. I simply cannot support or condone such a blatant violation of this court’s constitutional role. For this reason, I respectfully dissent.

From Chief Justice Jim Hannah's dissent:


I must respectfully dissent. At issue is this court’s ongoing review and monitoring of the General Assembly’s actions undertaken to provide a constitutional system of free public schools. The court has ordered that "all acts of the General Assembly, promulgated regulations, relevant reports, and any other information relating to constitutional compliance" be provided to this court within thirty days. Obviously, the court is about to examine what the General Assembly did in the last legislative session. That is troubling.

It is the acts of the General Assembly that are subject to judicial review, not the reports, rules, day-to-day activities, hearings, and other actions taken by the General Assembly. This court’s jurisdiction does not reach to supervising or overseeing the actions of the other branches of government. See Wells v. Riviere, 269 Ark. 156, 599 S.W.2d 375 (1980). That is precisely what this court has done and continues to do in this case. Judicial authority does not extend beyond interpretation. City of Hot Springs v. Creviston, 288 Ark. 286, 705 S.W.2d 415 (1986).

7:51 AM, December 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never understood why - when it comes to "checks and balances" the other two branches rarely do battle with the courts.

11:36 AM, December 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The justices got it right. I applaud them.

I'd rather have them watching out for the disparities in our schools than let the polticians keep shortchanging them.

Moore is wrong on this. But that's not particularly surprising.

11:49 AM, December 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The courts have no business in the school system. The schools in Arkansas are lousy enough without the courts getting involved. It is YOU who are wrong, not Mark.

3:41 PM, December 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

courts have been interferring in schools systems around the country for decades. history shows us they spend lots of the people's money and don't improve performance.

8:43 AM, December 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

off topic, but a common theme you talk about

you have to watch that video

another link:

11:30 PM, December 02, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is another

11:34 PM, December 02, 2006  
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