Last Friday (9/23) the Office of the Attorney General officially filed its appeal from Judge Moukawsher’s ruling concerning the constitutional adequacy of public education in the state. (The appeal has been assigned docket no. SC 19768.) Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers had previously granted the Attorney General’s petition for permission to appeal that ruling, but the filing of a formal appeal form was still required. The latest filing is thus merely an administrative event. The next big administrative issue that I expect the parties and the Supreme Court will soon address is establishing a schedule for briefing and oral argument. Given the nature of the case and the complex trial court record, I would not be surprised if the oral argument isn’t scheduled until late winter or early spring of 2017.
Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers has granted the Attorney General’s petition to appeal Judge Moukawsher’s recent bombshell ruling on the constitutional inadequacy of elementary and secondary school education in Connecticut. The Chief Justice also agreed to review issues the trial court decided against the plaintiffs. The Chief Justice did not set a date for oral argument, nor did she establish a briefing schedule. Stay tuned.
UPDATE (4:08 pm): The Supreme Court has issued an order granting the Attorney General’s request for a stay of the trial court’s ruling and order. Also, Justice McDonald is recused from the case.
As anticipated, Attorney General George Jepsen today filed a petition with the Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court seeking her permission to immediately appeal the recent trial court decision in the CCJEF v. Rell case. The decision holds that much of Connecticut’s elementary and secondary school funding and teacher evaluation policies are unconstitutional. Click here for CT News Junkie’s story.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher spent nearly 3 hours earlier this week reading from the bench his long-awaited decision in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell “(CCJEF v. Rell”). The decision is a scathing indictment of the way Connecticut defines and funds elementary and secondary school education, the way it funds special education, the way it hires, evaluates, pays and retains teachers, and the way it funds school construction. The opinion describes the way the General Assembly has addressed each of these issues as irrational. Not just weak, poor or bad policy. IRRATIONAL policy. So irrational as to be unconstitutional in the judge’s view. The judge ordered the General Assembly to provide rational solutions to these issues within 180 days, at which time he will decide whether the solutions meet his standard of rationality. If not, he will impose his own solutions.
After 11 years of litigation, Judge Thomas Moukawsher has issued his 254-page decision (including appendices) in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell. The decision is both a defeat and a victory for the plaintiffs.
Check out this post at CT Good Governance.
Lawyers love to use words that only lawyers and judges can understand. They also love to use words that even they don’t understand. Words like “moral turpitude.” What exactly is a crime involving moral turpitude?
Much ink has been spilled over the past several weeks about OPM Secretary Ben Barnes’s stated intention to impose further cuts on the state watchdog agencies’ budgets beyond what the General Assembly imposed last spring. State legislators, good government advocates (including me) and newspaper editorial pages have all criticized the proposed cuts. Governor Malloy recently stated that this is not an issue on which he intends to dig in his heels, a welcome indication of the administration’s willingness to work the issue out amicably.
But just in case that friendly effort to resolve the dispute is not successful, the agencies have stated that they may ask the Attorney General to opine on the legal issues in the case. This post is my take on the law. As I explain, while the watchdog agencies remain subject to the legislative budget ax, they are legally immune from gubernatorial budget cuts.
When President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to become an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, he listed empathy among the criteria he wanted in a Supreme Court justice. That statement ignited a heated debate about the role of empathy in the judicial process. No doubt it also caused Sotomayor significant heartburn during her confirmation hearings, as she sought to persuade the Senate that she believed judges should decide cases based on the law and the facts, not on their “feelings” for a particular party to a lawsuit.
It has been more than twelve years since the General Assembly overruled State v. Courchesne and codified the “plain meaning rule” in General Statutes § 1-2z. The plain meaning rule says that a court shall not consult extra-textual evidence of the meaning of the statute unless the statutory text, read in context, is ambiguous.
Implicit in the rule, then, is the proposition that legislative history is useful information. It can be helpful to ascertaining the meaning of a statute. But the plain meaning rule says it is only helpful if the text is ambiguous.