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Supreme Court hears special education, primary elections cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] Monday in Board of Education of the City of New York v. Tom F. [Duke Law case backgrounder; merit briefs], 06-637, in which the Court considered whether the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) [text] allows tuition reimbursement to the parents of a disabled student when the child has not previously received special education or related services from a public school, or if such an allowance stands in contradiction to 20 U.S.C. s.1412(a)(10)(C)(ii) [text] which allows reimbursement when the child has previously received such services. Tom F. was awarded continued tuition reimbursement under IDEA after his disabled child spent two years attending private school after Tom F. successfully challenged the public school district's Individualized Education Plan for his son as inadequate. The trial court reversed the administrative ruling, holding that the child was not entitled to tuition reimbursement because he had not previously received education services from a public agency. In reversing the trial court, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] upheld [order, PDF] the reimbursement mandated by the administrative body stating that IDEA did not preclude tuition reimbursement in this situation. AP has more.

The Court also heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] in Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party [Duke Law case backgrounder; merit briefs], 06-713, consolidated with Washington v. Washington State Republican Party, 06-730, where the Court considered whether Washington's system for primary elections violates the First Amendment right of freedom of association. State Initiative 872 instituted a "top two" primary system in 2004, which allows voters to select any candidate in the primary, with the top two vote-getters facing off in the November election, even if they are from the same party. The Ninth Circuit held [opinion text, PDF] that the initiative imposed a burden on the First Amendment rights of the Republican party with no justifying compelling state interest because it permitted candidates to claim association to a party without a requirement of any actual relationship with the party. AP has more.

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