Title

TheDynamicNatureofStateCourtsinEducationRightsLitigation

Authors

Sara McKnight

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

Little known to most Americans, there is currently no fundamental right to education under the United States Constitution. This was made clear in the 1973 Supreme Court decision in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez. This decision essentially foreclosed any options of pursuing the right to education at the federal level and forced groups to seek other options for recognition of this right. Many began looking to the state courts and state constitutions for help. Although it is common for state courts to follow the precedence of the federal courts, it is not necessary. When looking at state issues and state constitutions, the state court has the final authority. Fortunately, with respect to education rights cases, many state courts do not feel bound by the decision in Rodriguez, and instead choose to grant a right to education under their state constitutions. The success of groups at the state level has shown the effectiveness of state courts at achieving this right. This suggests that in the area of education rights, state courts have become the dynamic courts while federal courts are the constrained courts. This idea comes from Gerald Rosenberg's book The Hollow Hope. He describes constrained courts as those in which no social change can be effectively achieved and dynamic courts as those in which it can. In my paper I will show how and why education rights litigation has and will continue to be successful at the state level as opposed to the federal level.

Advisor

Thalia Gonzalez

Department

politics

Support

Ford Mentors Endowment

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