A federal court will not re-hear a case concerning a right to a basic education, it ruled Wednesday, a convoluted conclusion to a closely-watched lawsuit.
The ruling concerns Detroit Public Schools students who sued the state of Michigan over conditions in the schools while under state control. Over the course of several weeks, the lawsuit underwent a series of developments, leading to a settlement from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
- In April, a three judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the students, arguing that the state had denied students a right to a basic education by letting conditions in schools deteriorate.
- On May 14, Whitmer proposed a settlement that, upon approval by the Republican-controlled legislature, would provide funding to Detroit schools.
- But then days later, on May 19, a majority of the court’s 16 active judges voted to overturn the initial ruling and rehear the case before the full court.
Now, because of the settlement, the full court ruled it will not hear the case again, concluding the legal saga.
But the challenge from the court majority means the ruling did not establish a constitutional right to a basic education — although it could not reverse its earlier arguments in favor of one.
While the court’s initial arguments supporting a “right to literacy” stand as the opinion of the court, the ruling remains vacated, establishing no strong precedent.
The court’s argument can still be cited in future cases.