At the invitation of the Michigan Supreme Court, Public Funds Public Schools (PFPS) has filed an amicus curiae brief urging invalidation of a Michigan law that funnels limited public education funds to private schools.
PFPS is a national campaign to ensure that public funds for education are exclusively used to maintain and support public schools. PFPS opposes all forms of private school vouchers, as well as direct aid to private schools and other diversions of public funds from public education.
In Council of Organizations & Others for Education about Parochiaid v. State, plaintiff public school advocates are challenging a statute that would divert millions in taxpayer funds from Michigan’s public education budget to reimburse private schools for a wide range of expenses. Michigan’s Court of Claims invalidated the law, ruling that it violated the “no-aid clause” in the state constitution, which expressly forbids any direct or indirect payment of public funds to nonpublic schools. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court, declaring the law constitutional.
The plaintiffs requested review by the Michigan Supreme Court, and PFPS filed an amicus brief supporting the application for leave to appeal. The Court granted review and invited PFPS to submit an additional amicus brief as it considered the merits of the case.
The PFPS amicus brief argues that the plain text of the Michigan Constitution’s no-aid clause expresses the electorate’s intention to retain public funding exclusively for Michigan’s public schools. PFPS also demonstrates that Michigan’s no-aid clause, which bans public funding of any private school, was not the result of animus toward religious schools, but rather was added to the state constitution’s Education Article to buttress Michigan’s constitutional obligation to maintain and support its public schools.
Additionally, the amicus brief provides crucial context about Michigan voters’ motivation for approving the no-aid clause in a 1970 referendum, in response to a strained public education budget and desire to improve the State’s underfunded and underperforming public school system. Finally, the brief offers extensive evidence, including several recent studies, about the continuing underfunding of Michigan’s public schools. The current level of underfunding is severe and would be exacerbated by the diversion of funds to private schools under the statute at issue in the case.
Pro bono representation of PFPS on its amicus filings in this case has been graciously provided by the law firms Paul Weiss in New York and Salvatore Prescott & Porter in Michigan.
To read PFPS’s previous amicus briefs in this lawsuit and in other cases around the country, visit the Litigation page of the PFPS website.