The Michigan Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments in March on a case deciding whether the state Legislature can spend public money on private schools.
As the Advance previously reported, the Supreme Court was scheduled to hold arguments on March 4 and 5 in Council of Organizations v. State of Michigan. But the court in an order released Wednesday set the lawsuit aside, pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a high-profile federal case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, which also concerns funding for parochial schools.
The Michigan issue dates back to 2016, when GOP-then Gov. Rick Snyder signed the Fiscal Year 2017 K-12 state budget that included a $2.5 million appropriation to reimburse private and parochial schools for complying with mandates to which state public schools must adhere, like for transportation or teacher certifications.
A coalition of education groups in 2017 lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the funding. The state Supreme Court announced that it would hear the case in June 2019.
Justice Elizabeth Clement didn’t take part in the decision, as she is Snyder’s former counsel. Justice Stephen Markman dissented, arguing the delay is too long.
“With oral argument now likely to be rescheduled to the next term of the court, it will have been nearly five years from the time of the enactment of this measure that a determination of constitutionality may perhaps emerge,” Markman wrote.