Suthers Lauds Decision In School Finance Case

DENVER – Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers applauded a decision released today by the Colorado Court of Appeals in the case of Lobato, et al. v. State of Colorado. The Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ appeal, which claimed the State fails to provide adequate funding to public schools.

“The judges have rightly held that the question of school funding is one for Colorado’s citizens and their elected representatives, not for the courts,” commented Attorney General Suthers. “This decision is a major victory for representative government in Colorado.”

In a 34-page opinion, judges Webb, Casebolt, and Terry ruled unanimously that the General Assembly elected by the citizens of Colorado has the sole authority to establish and maintain appropriate funding levels for public schools. The court held that Article IX, Section 2 of the Colorado Constitution provides no "judicially discoverable or manageable standards" to allow the courts to "assess the adequacy of educational funding." The court further ruled that individual school districts, as political subdivisions, do not have standing to sue the State.

The decision read, in pertinent part, “We conclude that as political subdivisions, the school districts lack standing, and that the parents’ challenge to the adequacy of school financing is a nonjusticiable political question.”

While arguing the case on January 7 of this year, Colorado solicitor general Daniel Domenico summarized the State’s position: “We do not argue that the system of financing public education … is completely without fault, or that there is no room for further legislative improvement. We simply are arguing that it is the role of the people and the General Assembly – rather than courts and litigants – to decide upon and implement those improvements.”

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