Right-wing NC Supreme Court could soon decide the future of the multi-decade, multi-billion-dollar Leandro school funding plan
The right-wing North Carolina Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition from Republican lawmakers in the multi-decade, multi-billion-dollar Leandro public school funding plan.
The court had decided to take the lawsuit back up in March, but this latest wrinkle in the case adds another issue for the 5-2 conservative court to consider.
Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore filed the appeal on Oct. 20. They were fighting the ruling that a trial judge made in April, in which he determined that the State of North Carolina owed just under $678 million to schools for funding the Leandro Plan.
Berger and Moore’s argument was that the judge didn’t have the authority to determine how much money the state owed – despite a November 2022 ruling by the then-Democratic majority state Supreme Court that specified a superior court judge would need to decide what amount was owed.
The same day the appeal was filed, a majority of the justices said they would hear arguments on whether or not the trial judge had the authority to make his April ruling.
For decades, state Republicans have failed to adhere to the court order, refusing to pass measures or a state budget that incorporates the necessary investments toward teachers, school support staff, resources and school infrastructure.
Instead, state Republicans have used the newly conservative Supreme Court to roll back steps toward adequate public school funding as recommended by Leandro.
“Beyond question, public education is an important issue that sparks strong beliefs,” Justice Anita Earls wrote in her dissent. “And when this Court rapidly reverses course on that topic, it ‘calls into question its commitment to legal principle.’ It signals to North Carolinians ‘that their constitutional protections h[a]ng by a thread” — that ‘a new majority’ can ‘by dint of numbers alone expunge their rights.’”
Court dates have not been set.