We've posted a lot on the rash of successful lawsuits seeking to compel the taxpayers of various states to pony up more for the support of big-city schools: see Aug. 26, Aug. 17, Jul. 22, and many others. Now we're pleased to announce the publication of our latest featured article, entitled "Classroom Bullies: New York's Abusive School-Finance Litigation", which takes a close look at the Campaign for Fiscal Equity's lawsuit against New York state. The article's first paragraph gives a flavor:
Around the country in recent years, activist litigators have persuaded state judiciaries to step in and seize control of school finance, ordering state lawmakers to institute new spending for the purpose of equalizing spending among local districts, rectifying alleged funding inadequacies, or both. The resulting court decisions have been vastly controversial, stirring (well-justified) charges that the courts are stifling voters' control of the schools, usurping the historic appropriations role of the legislature, and sinking the states with mandated-but-ineffective spending. If the experience of New York is any indication, the decisions are subject to another, distinct critique: namely, they are obtained by way of abusive litigation. In particular, their proponents are allowed to evade classic prerequisites of standing and adversarialness, aimed at ensuring that courts are presented with a genuine "case or controversy", with the result that litigation becomes a puppet play aimed at justifying a preordained conclusion.
The author is Thomas C. O'Brien, an attorney and author in Corning, N.Y. whose past work includes a highly recommended analysis of the multistate tobacco settlement, published in 2000 by the Cato Institute.