The Minnesota Supreme Court [official website] remanded [opinion, PDF] a 2015 class action lawsuit concerning racial and socio-economic segregation in Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools to the district court on Wednesday. The court of appeals had thrown the case out last year.
The appellants, who are parents of Minnesota schoolchildren, alleged that the state violated the Education, Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Minnesota Constitution [text]. The appellants said that the Minnesota public school system engages in several practices that encourage de facto segregation, including drawing strict boundaries for public schools and excluding charter schools from desegregation plans.
The lower court granted in part and denied in part the state’s motion to dismiss, but the court of appeals threw out the case, saying that it concerned a non-justiciable political question. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals decision.
Justice Natalie Hudson, writing for the majority, said, “the judiciary is asked to determine whether the Legislature has violated its constitutional duty under the Education Clause. We conclude that the courts are the appropriate domain for such determinations and that appellants’ Education Clause claims are therefore justiciable.”
The Supreme Court also found that the district court was correct to deny the state’s motion to dismiss “based on legislative immunity and failure to join necessary parties.”
The two dissenting justices agreed with the court of appeals that the issue at hand was a political question because the public school system is to be regulated by the legislature, not the judiciary.