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NC Supreme Court Hears Latest Arguments In Landmark School Funding Case

Source: N.C. Newsline

Late last month, the North Carolina Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the long-running Leandro education case. The Feb. 22nd hearing marked the fifth appearance of the 30 year-long case in front of the high court.

Melanie Dubis, a lawyer for the school districts, argued that the state Supreme Court should not disturb its 2022 ruling; a ruling in which the N.C. Supreme Court ordered the state to fund parts of the Leandro plan.

“It has been the rule of this court for over 100 years that the court will not disturb its prior holding in the same case, even if it would have overturned that holding on a properly presented petition for rehearing,” stated Dubis.

After the 2022 elections, which flipped control of the Court to Republicans with a 5-2 majority, the newly conservative court decided to revisit the decision, following a request from Republican state legislative leaders.

“The facts in the Leandro case have not changed, so I do not understand why the court feels the need to rehear the case,” Rev. Suzanne Parker Miller, executive director of Pastors for North Carolina Children, told N.C. Newsline. “The facts are that our 1.5 million school children in North Carolina are still not receiving their constitutional right to a sound basic education and equitable educational opportunities.”

“What we need are legislators who actually follow the constitution they swear an oath to uphold and courts that provide true checks and balances on a legislature that believes it’s not bound by the constitution,” Rev. Miller added.

For years, state Republican legislative leaders have attempted to skirt responsibility in adequately funding the state’s public education system. Going so far as to remove the late Superior Court David Lee, and appoint a UNC Law classmate of Chief Justice Paul Newby, to oversee the case. 

According to WUNC, in the latest argument, Matthew Tilley, an attorney for the Republican-led General Assembly, stated in his closing argument that if the latest judicial decision conflicts with precedent or the constitution, then it should be overturned and corrected.

Amid the Thursday’s court hearing, hundreds of advocates, families, and students gathered outside the state capitol to call for the North Carolina Supreme Court to uphold the 2022 ruling to fund public schools. 

“Our actions, (the court’s) actions, shape the destinies of many generations to come. But their actions today will affect all those 1.5 million public school students who are in classrooms taught by teachers right now,” stated Tamika Walker Kelly, President of North Carolina Association of Educators, during the rally. 

“Public schools are a promise that we make to our children — that regardless of where you come from, your background, your zip code, or how you choose to show up in the world — that every child deserves a chance to succeed”.

Judges have scheduled March 22nd for the next argument date.


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