Oral arguments in school choice case delayed

CARSON CITY — The state’s highest court Wednesday rescheduled oral arguments for July 29 on the constitutionality of Nevada’s highly watched school choice law.

The Nevada Supreme Court granted a motion a day after the attorney general’s office requested the arguments be delayed from July 8 because its hired outside attorney, Paul Clement, will be out of the country through July 11.

The state originally asked the court to hold arguments in early June and issue a ruling by July 8 to ensure there’s enough time to fund and administer the program before the new school year, should the court lift an injunction imposed by Carson City District Judge James Wilson.

Lawyers for the state, in court documents filed Tuesday, said the delay would not materially affect the timing of implementation by the state treasurer’s office.

Seen as the most sweeping school choice program in the country, the law passed by the 2015 Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval allows parents to set up education savings accounts and receive state, per-pupil funding — about $5,100 annually — to send their children to private or religious schools or pay for other educational programs.

Wilson ruled in favor of a group of parents who argued the law will take critical funding away from public schools and harm their own children’s education. He issued an injunction that remains in effect pending resolution by the high court.

A judge in Clark County last month ruled in a separate suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada that the law did not violate a constitutional prohibition against using taxpayer money for sectarian purposes.

No appeal of that ruling has yet been filed, though the Supreme Court earlier indicated it would prefer to hear all arguments pertaining to the law at the same time if the ACLU does pursue an appeal.

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