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EDITORIAL: Education funding lawsuit gets the bum’s rush

To understand why progressives are so incensed about the U.S. Supreme Court, look no further than a lawsuit filed earlier this year in Nevada.

In March, before the pandemic deluge, a self-described education advocacy group known as Educate Nevada Now filed a legal action fronted by nine parents arguing the state had failed to meet its constitutional obligation to fund the public schools. The move was modeled after actions in other states and was part of a concerted effort — along with threatened tax hike initiatives — to pressure the Legislature into again increasing school spending.

According to the filing, the resources Nevada has devoted to its public schools “fall egregiously short of the sufficiency required by the Nevada Constitution, the laws of this state and the pronouncements and benchmarks set by the state itself.” To remedy this perceived deficiency, the group demanded that a judge order the Legislature to “sufficiently” fund education.

Never mind that, just five years ago, state lawmakers passed the largest package of tax hikes in state history — $1.4 billion — in order to raise money for schools. Educate Nevada Now would have the judiciary discard the democratic and legislative processes to unilaterally dictate how much treasure collected from state taxpayers constitutes a “sufficient” commitment to the education establishment.

In other words, Educate Nevada Now seeks to use the courts to achieve by judicial fiat what advocates for limitless education funding have been unable to achieve through legislation. Likewise, Democrats on the national level have long sought to transform the judiciary into a quasi-legislative body stacked with liberal activists eager to circumvent Congress to impose policy from the bench. The confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett further disrupts that agenda.

Never mind that the courts have no authority under either the national or Nevada Constitution to act in this regard. Their role is to determine statutory constitutionality not to impose policy outcomes. In fact, the Nevada Constitution explicitly bestows the Legislature — not the judiciary — with the authority to set education spending.

And that’s exactly what a Carson City judge concluded earlier this month when he dismissed the Educate Nevada Now lawsuit. “Consistent with the separation of powers doctrine,” District Court Judge James Wilson wrote in a five-page decision released on Oct. 7, “the court will not substitute its judgment for that of the Legislature with respect to education policy in the state of Nevada.”

Amen. And if Educate Nevada Now truly hopes that Nevada students benefit from its fanciful lawsuit, it should distribute Judge Wilson’s decision to every government and civics teacher in the state for immediate class consideration of its airtight reasoning.

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