Newsom's California Violated Parent Rights with School Shutdown, Ninth Circuit Rules
Constitutional rights violated of parents whose children were at private schools
The State of California, under Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom's leadership, violated the constitutional rights of parents by shutting down their kids' schools, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled.
The court determined that the rights of parents, whose children were at private schools, were violated when Gov. Newsom’s administration forced those schools to shut down during the height of the pandemic last year.
The court agreed that the state government had the authority to close public schools.
However, a 2-1 majority court found that Newsom's authority did not include powers to close private schools.
Plaintiffs in the case included parents from both private and public schools.
They were represented by the conservative Center for American Liberty, which challenged the governor’s shutdown rules.
Judge Daniel P. Collins wrote:
Both the Supreme Court and this court have repeatedly declined to recognize a federal constitutional right to have the State affirmatively provide an education in any particular manner, and Plaintiffs have not made a sufficient showing that we can or should recognize such a right in this case.
We reach a different conclusion, however, as to the State’s interference in the in-person provision of private education to the children of five of the Plaintiffs in this case.
California’s forced closure of their private schools implicates a right that has long been considered fundamental under the applicable caselaw—the right of parents to control their children’s education and to choose their children’s educational forum.
Because California’s ban on in-person schooling abridges a fundamental liberty of these five Plaintiffs that is protected by the Due Process Clause, that prohibition can be upheld only if it withstands strict scrutiny.
Given the State closure order’s lack of narrow tailoring, we cannot say that, as a matter of law, it survives such scrutiny.
In his dissent, Judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote that the plaintiff’s complaint was moot: “The State has made substantial progress in battling the pandemic, largely because of the introduction of effective and widely available vaccines.
"Given that progress, the challenged orders no longer prevent any of Plaintiffs’ schools from providing in-person instruction.”
Read the full decision here.
The state currently expects most schools to reopen for full-time, in-person learning in the fall, but the recent surge in coronavirus cases in the state has led to renewed concerns.
The case is Brach v. Newsom, Central District of California, No. 20-56291.