from our friends at Nebraskans for Local Schools and
Class Ones United
George Lauby (Nebraskans for Local Schools) - 308-325-2315
Mike Nolles (Class Ones United) – 402-244-5473
A U.S. Supreme Court justice is asking questions about the legality of the Class I school mergers in Nebraska.
On April 4, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. asked the State of Nebraska to say why the implementation of LB 126 should not be suspended.
Class I supporters, through their attorney Don Stenberg, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the case after the Nebraska Supreme Court did not suspend the bill.
“This is a very important development,” Stenberg said. “It shows that the court is giving serious consideration to granting an injunction which would preserve the right of Nebraska voters to decide the future of Class I schools at the Nov. 7 election.”
The constitutional right to a valid referendum vote is jeopardized, the plaintiffs say, because LB 126 is being implemented even though a referendum vote will be held in November.
The state is to respond in writing to Alito’s request by Monday.
Stenberg represents individuals and Class I school districts that will be dissolved under LB 126. LB 126 was passed in June by the Legislature over Gov. Dave Heineman’s veto.
The law calls for the merger of Class I districts with K-12 districts. It takes effect June 15, 2006, eliminating 200 Class I school districts.
Alito oversees the 8th U.S. Circuit -- which includes Nebraska -- at the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices can make such requests without conferring with colleagues. If he finds merit in an injunction Alito could issue it on his own, or jointly with other justices. That action could come within two weeks. Opponents of LB126 successfully challenged the law in Lancaster County District Court last year. Judge Paul Merritt ruled implementing the complex school reorganization decision before the November election would irreparably harm voters’ rights.
The Nebraska Supreme Court reversed Merrit’s ruling March 3, saying the high court would not trump a Constitutional requirement for 10 percent of voters to sign a referendum petition to suspend a law (the petitioners obtained 7.7 percent).
However, in its ruling, the Nebraska Supreme Court did not comment on the potential damage to voters’ rights and the referendum election process.
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