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Kansas Supreme Court Discovers Education as “Fundamental Right”
September 10th, 2005
At least three Democrat Supreme Court Justices in Kansas apparently do not understand the legal principle of stare decisis. Stare decisis is a Latin term for the judicial principle of upholding an earlier high-court decision unless special circumstances exist to overturn it. The phrase literally means to “stand by things decided.”
Democrat Justice Carol Beier has only been on the Kansas Supreme Court since Sept 5, 2003, but took the lead in finding a “new right” for Kansans on Friday. Justices Beier, Luckert and Davis now claim that “education” is a fundamental right in Kansas.
From the Supreme Court’s web page (posted yesterday):
In her concurring opinion, Justice Beier said she disagreed with a 1994 Kansas Supreme Court decision holding that education is not a fundamental right, a holding “implicitly” affirmed in the January 3 decision.
From the Ryan Montoy, et al, v. State of Kansas lawsuit:
1 BEIER, J., concurring: I concur fully in the court’s result and in the bulk of its rationale. I write separately only because I disagree with the holding of U.S.D. No. 229 v. State, 256 Kan. 232, 260-63, 885 P.2d 1170 (1994), that education is not a fundamental right under the Kansas Constitution. I believe it is. Thus I would not, as the court implicitly did on its way to the opinion in this case, rely on U.S.D. No. 229 to conclude that the Kansas school financing formula under SDFQAA did not violate the Equal Protection Clauses of the federal and state Constitutions. Rather, I would take the opportunity presented by this case to overrule the U.S.D. No. 229 holding on the status of the right to education under the Kansas Constitution.
In San Antonio School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1, 36 L. Ed. 2d 16, 93 S. Ct. 1278, reh. denied 411 U.S. 959 (1973), the United States Supreme Court held that education is not a fundamental right under the United States Constitution.
. . .
For all of the foregoing reasons, I concur in the judgment and most of the rationale of my colleagues. I respectfully disagree with their view that education is not a fundamental right under the Kansas Constitution. It is. Justice Luckert never held otherwise in U.S.D. No. 229, slip op. This court should not have jumped to that regressive conclusion then, and it should not reinforce that error now.
DAVIS, J., joins in the foregoing concurring opinion.
LUCKERT, J., concurring: I concur fully in the result of the majority of the court and most of its rationale. However, I would find that education is a fundamental right under the Kansas Constitution. In this regard, I agree with Justice Beier’s analysis of this issue.
1 REPORTER’S NOTE: Two concurring opinions to the majority opinion in Montoy v. State, No. 92,032 filed January 3, 2005, were filed with the Clerk of the Appellate Courts on September 9, 2005.
All three Kansas Supreme Court Justices mentioned in this opinion, Beier, Davis and Luckert, are Democrats. (See the previous Kansas Meadowlark article, “Sebelius continues packing Kansas Supreme Court with Democrats: 5 Democrats Vs. 2 Republicans when Kansas has only 27% Democrats!”) Should these Democrat justices be called “activists” for finding a new “right” in the Kansas Constitution?
Today’s Salina Journal published the AP story, “Justices find education a ‘fundamental right’” (see p. A4). The Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle posted this story on their web sites on Friday. Other Kansas newspapers carried this story today, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Lawrence Journal-World, and the Dodge City Globe.
Here’s a brief summary of the AP story:
TOPEKA - To life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, add an adequate education as a right guaranteed all Kansans under the state constitution.
At least, that’s the conclusion of three justices of the Kansas Supreme Court, who indicated Friday that they would go even further than the court already has in forcing improvements in school funding.
Justices Carol Beier and Marla Luckert issued new opinions to accompany a decision the Supreme Court issued in January, requiring the Legislature to provide more money to schools and distribute the dollars more fairly. Justice Robert Davis joined Beier in her opinion.
This is NOT the first time the current Kansas Supreme Court abandoned the principle of stare decisis. See the January the Kansas Political News article: Kansas Supreme Court Abandons Legal Principles.
It’s not clear why the Court discovered this new “right” at this point in time.