Arlington, Va.—Today, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued an unexpected order to review a trial-court decision in two lawsuits aiming to invalidate the state’s school choice program. The two cases were pending in the Court of Appeals, which would have reviewed the trial court’s decision if not for the Supreme Court’s intervention. That order shows that the state Supreme Court recognizes the program’s importance and wants to decide these cases as quickly as possible to avoid further disrupting the educations of more than 1,800 students who were awarded scholarships.
“This is the second time that the North Carolina Supreme Court has recognized the importance of the scholarship program under attack in these cases and acted to expedite their resolution,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Dick Komer, who is lead counsel for two families intervening in the case. “In May, the Court stayed a preliminary injunction that had halted implementation of the program and allowed the scholarships to be awarded to eligible families. Parents across North Carolina are grateful to the Court for expediting the final decision on the program’s constitutionality.”
North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, which was enacted in 2013, allows low-income parents to afford private school for their children whose needs aren’t being met by public schools.
In late August, Judge Robert Hobgood ruled the program unconstitutional. The families represented by the Institute for Justice brought their appeal of Judge Hobgood’s decision to the Court of Appeals, which allowed the program to continue while the court considered the cases. The Supreme Court’s move to take the cases indicates that it did not wish to wait for a decision from the Court of Appeals.
“This is an exciting development for North Carolina families,” said IJ Attorney Renée Flaherty. “The Supreme Court has recognized the importance of resolving these cases quickly, so that the cloud of uncertainty surrounding the future of this program can be lifted as soon as possible.”
More information on the case is available at: http://www.ij.org/ncchoice