Supreme Court won’t intervene in voucher appeal

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Tennessee Supreme Court won’t reach down to hear appeal of Nashville judge’s ruling that Gov. Bill Lee’s school voucher law is unconstitutional. The state’s highest court also said it won’t lift injunction on implementing the program while the legal challenge is underway.

That means the case stays with the intermediate Court of Appeals, which isn’t scheduled to hear oral arguments until school is scheduled to resume in August.

Here’s the order:

On May 20, 2020, Intervening Defendants Ciera Calhoun, Greater Praise Christian Academy, Alexandria Medlin, Sensational Enlightenment Academy Independent School, and David Wilson, Sr. filed in this Court a motion to assume jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 48 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court and Tennessee Code Annotated section 16-3-201(d). On that same date, Intervening Defendants Natu Bah, Star Brumfield, Bria Davis, and Builiguissa Diallo filed a motion to assume jurisdiction. On May 21, 2020, Defendants the Tennessee Department of Education, Commissioner Penny Schwinn, in her official capacity as Education Commissioner, and Governor Bill Lee, in his official capacity, filed a motion to assume jurisdiction. On May 21, 2020, Defendants the Tennessee Department of Education, Commissioner Penny Schwinn, in her official capacity as Education Commissioner, and Governor Bill Lee, in his official capacity also filed a motion for review of orders denying a stay of injunction pursuant to Rule 7(a) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure and Rule 62.08 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. On May 29, 2020, Roxanne McEwen, David P. Bichell, Terry Jo Bichell, Lisa Mingrone, Claudia Russell, Inez Williams, Sheron Davenport, Heather Kenney, Elise McIntosh, Tracy O’Connor, and Apryle Young (collectively the “McEwen Plaintiffs”) filed a motion for leave to file an amicus brief and tendered their brief pursuant to Rule 31 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure.

The McEwen Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to file an amicus brief is GRANTED, and the brief lodged by them shall be accepted as filed as of the date of this order.

The Court has carefully considered each of the motions to assume jurisdiction, the motion for review of orders denying a stay of injunction, Plaintiffs’ responses in opposition to those motions, and the brief of the amicus. Based upon the current totality of the circumstances, including the relevant timeline and the procedural posture of this case, the Court concludes that this case does not warrant the extraordinary action of the exercise of the Court’s authority to assume jurisdiction. As a result, the motions to assume jurisdiction must be DENIED. For similar reasons, the Court further concludes that the motion for review of orders denying a stay of injunction is DENIED.

16 Responses to Supreme Court won’t intervene in voucher appeal

  • Not that Stuart guy says:

    One small battle victory in a war that is far from over.

    • John says:

      Bill Lee’s voucher scam is a sunk-cost. If Lee was a real businessman and not a spoiled beneficiary, he’d recognize the folly of throwing good money after bad and call it day. Apparently, vouchers are his cross to bear.

  • Benton Temple says:

    This legislation is severely stained by loser Glen Casada’s shady shenanigans. It will always be controversial.

    The best thing to do for the kids is to take the loss and start over. Vouchers may be the solution. We just need to get there the right way.

  • Karen Bracken says:

    It would make sense for Lee to concede and use the money to get our budget back in good shape after the SCAMDEMIC that caused him to close down our state. Instead of doing like some other Governors did he chose the easy way out which will cripple our state for years to come. To date 306 people out of 6 million have died from COVID and how many of them DID NOT really die FROM Covid? Dying with something and dying because of something are two different things but during this scam they had to count them together in order to cover up for their deception and stupidity. In 2017 we had 1657 people die in TN from Flu/Pneumonia. There is no data available yet for 2018. Masks that are now proven to make you more sick than you would if you got Covid and social distancing that again was a total fabrication to make people fearful of others. He best not dare to make our kids wear masks and social distance when they return to school. Our kids have enough to contend with with the awful standards (Common Core), assessments and curriculum they don’t need to go to school in fear of their classmates too. Put a mask on a child all day and you are going to have kids passing out from oxygen deprivation and other respiratory disorders. We breathe out of our bodies CO2 for a reason. Breathing it back in is dangerous. So he needs to nix this voucher business that the majority of Tennesseans did not want and have fought for over 10 years. Vouchers is the funding mechanism they will use to get ALL private and religious schools (TN does not participate in the Blaine Amendment) into the same awful system parents are trying to get away from. Same with Charters. They MUST have ALL children in the same system and in the data pipeline and vouchers and Charters are the feel good scheme that gives the illusion of choice that will get all kids into the same system and data pipeline. WAKE UP. I am so proud of the people that are fighting this legally.

    • David Collins says:

      Scamdemic? Really? Over 106,00 have died from it. I don’t know where your 306 figure came from. Probably the same source that still contends the earth is flat, that there was never a moon landing, and continues to confuse whether with climate. You need to find a new source of information.

      • James White says:

        It is deaths in Tennessee obviously.

      • MARLE says:

        306……Yes, David, that was correct as of her post. This blog is in TN. So the earth isn’t flat and all the other smart a$$ stuff you wrote is for no purpose. She was right; the only correct thing is that YOU don’t know where the figure came from.

      • Karen Bracken says:

        you need to do your homework Sir. 306 died in TN not 106,000. We lost 1656 to the yearly flu in 2017. The UK downgraded Covid to a yearly flue on MARCH 19 but no one heard about that now did they. The person that calls another person a conspiracy theorist is generally a person that refuses to do any research and relies on the fake news to feed their opinions. YOUR opinion does not negate facts. It has been stated by all the agencies that the death rate is nothing more than a yearly flu. They also stated that many of the people that died WITH COVID did not die BECAUSE of COVID. Birx herself said that from her own mouth. COVID is a Corona and anyone that has come in contact with a Corona virus during their entire life will test positive. If you wish to live your life in fear guess what you will die in the end just like the rest of us. Fear doesn’t stop death it stops life.

  • Keith says:

    What flavor was the Kool-Aid, Ms Bracken?

  • steve cates says:

    I am so happy for this and also so happy for those in my Publix who were following best practices today. I go out only every two weeks and am so thankful for this store – and others – whose employees are wearing masks and disinfecting and on and on and on. I do have to control my tongue when I see the FEW not wearing masks. I can’t understand their unkindness and lack of concern for others. I do fear for what our public school teachers will face as we try to open schools again. In fact, I saw one of my fine former students in the store who has been a wonderful teacher here for 32 years. He told me quickly that he was FINISHED/OUT and would be working, but not in a classroom!! It’s sad, but I am happy for him that he is escaping a classroom where he actually cannot really TEACH any more and in fact is in great danger as he tries to do his work.

    • MARLE says:

      Maybe the ones without masks already had it and have fully recovered. Before you blow a gasket how about considering that possibility? It must be very difficult being as frightened as you seem to be.

  • Henry Walker says:

    I think the state Supreme Court read Chancellor Martin’s opinion, realized that she’s right about the voucher law being unconstitutional and prudently decided to leave the case where it is.

    Note that the lower court did not say that a voucher plan is illegal per se but that the way it was done—applying only to Davidson and Shelby counties—violates the “home rule” provision of the state constitution. It would be an easy fix for the legislature, but they no longer have the votes to do it.

    Kudos to Chancellor Martin for a thorough, legally sound opinion and to Metro Legal Director Bob Cooper for crafting the winning argument.

  • Major Freshman political mistake in going after vouchers. Thugs like Casada and Mark Gill dragging their knuckles around legislative plaza are to thank for all this wasted energy and political wrangling. Lee’s Staff should be fired for the colossal mistake.

  • James White says:

    Perhaps one good thing about the COVID-19 and #LeeTheTyrant, maybe More parents will realize they can home school or have their kids work on-line from home and avoid the socialist government schools. The democrats want more socialism and dumbing down and the republicans want trained worker bees and neither want to educate.
    I agree with Thomas Sowell: If you are serious about wanting to improve education, do not vote more money for the education establishment that has been dumbing down the schools for years. Vote for vouchers, tax credits, or anything else that will transfer decision-making power to parents.

    • Karen Bracken says:

      Sadly, Parents for the most part cannot wait to send their babies back to the federal indoctrination centers.

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