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CCJEF v. Rell (2018), Connecticut Supreme Court Decision

Court Cases

In a 4-3 ruling, the Connecticut Supreme Court handed down its decision in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell and ruled in favor of the State of Connecticut and rejected each of the legal claims made by CCJEF. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Chase Rogers noted there is “an imperfect public educational system in [Connecticut] that is straining to serve many students who, because their basic needs for, among other things, adequate parenting, financial resources, housing, nutrition and care for their physical and psychological health are not being met, cannot take advantage of the educational opportunities that the state is offering.”

However, the Chief Justice and the Court’s majority found that although Connecticut has “an imperfect public educational system,” [i]t is not the function of the courts…to create educational policy or to attempt by judicial fiat to eliminate all of the societal deficiencies that continue to frustrate the state’s educational efforts.” Instead, the Court stated “the function of the courts is to determine whether the narrow and specific criteria for a minimally adequate educational system under [Connecticut’s] state constitution have been satisfied.”

In its decision, the Court found the State of Connecticut had satisfied its constitutional requirement to provide a minimally adequate public educational system, and reversed the Superior Court’s ruling that the State violated article eighth, § 1 of the Connecticut Constitution by not having educational policies and spending practices that are “rationally, substantially and verifiably connected to creating educational opportunities for children.” The Court did, however, uphold the Superior Court’s ruling that the State of Connecticut is spending more on education, in total, than the state constitution requires.

Concurring in part and dissenting in part in the case were Justices Richard Palmer, Richard Robinson, and Michael Sheldon. Writing for the justices who dissented, Justice Palmer argued for the case to be remanded to the Superior Court for a new trial, and for CCJEF to be afforded the opportunity to prove its case according to the correct legal standard, which each of the Supreme Court justices who heard the case agreed was not used by Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher in his original ruling.

Citations

Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, Inc. v. Rell, 327 Conn. 650 (2018). Retrieved from https://jud.ct.gov/external/supapp/Cases/AROcr/CR327/327CR19.pdf.

Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, Inc. v. Rell, 327 Conn. 650, 732 (2018). Retrieved from https://jud.ct.gov/external/supapp/Cases/AROcr/CR327/327CR19.pdf.