Literacy rights ruling highlights divide between Whitmer and Nessel

Apr 23, 2020 by

A historic Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision ruling that Detroit students have a fundamental right to education threw into sharp relief the complicated positions of Democratic state leaders on the issue.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office, while not opposed to the idea of a right to education, has continued to fight the lawsuit, arguing the state should not be a named defendant because Detroit schools are now under local control and lawmakers had done much to improve Detroit public schools in recent years.

The Attorney General’s Office is representing Whitmer’s position, but Attorney General Dana Nessel last year attempted to distance herself from the state’s position and take the side of the students.

More: Appeals Court: Detroit students have fundamental right to education

The Sixth Circuit wouldn’t allow Nessel to file arguments in the case, but largely took her position on Thursday, ruling that Detroit students have a fundamental but limited right to basic minimum education and have standing to sue the state for alleged violations of the newly created right.

In a 2-1 ruling, the Appeals Court panel warned that the right to education “is narrow in scope” to include access to skills deemed “essential for the basic exercise of other fundamental rights and liberties, most importantly participation in our political system.”

The governor, who was listed as a defendant in place of Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder since he left office, is reviewing the decision to determine next steps, said Tiffany Brown, Whitmer’s spokeswoman.

Source: Literacy rights ruling highlights divide between Whitmer and Nessel

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