While we were all staring at that light at the end of the briefing process in Lopez, a quite a bit of maneuvering was happening, pushing the briefing phase out until the end of April.
For those of you newly joining the email list, Lopez is the northern Nevada lawsuit to stop Nevada’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program. This is the case that’s, at least for now, frozen the ESA program. An appeal of the injunction was filed by the State of Nevada (on behalf of Treasurer Dan Schwartz) and the case, on an expedited schedule, is in the briefing phase at the Nevada Supreme Court.
When last I updated, the Respondents (the Lopez Plaintiffs) were due to file their response to the State’s opening brief. The State would then have 10 days to file a reply — due April 11. Since then, several Amici briefs have been filed on behalf of the Respondents.
Now, it is typical to have these “friend of the court” briefs. In fact, it is so typical there are rules covering when such briefs are due. And, as expected, some amici briefs were previously filed… in accordance with court rules. However, several groups have sought, and received, from the Court an extension to file their legal briefs after the deadline — an extension which goes beyond the State’s deadline to file its reply brief.
“[T]he Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked the Nevada Supreme Court to extend the expedited briefing period to accommodate their amicus briefs in Lopez v. Schwartz,” noted a press release from the Treasurer’s office earlier today. “The Court granted their request, pushing the final deadline [for their briefs] to April 20.” NV Treasurer Press Release ESA filings
It is unknown why the Supreme Court gave leave of the expedited schedule for these late filings.
In an effort to ensure the State of Nevada has an opportunity to reply to all legal arguments raised in this case, the State (the attorney general’s office) has requested an extension until April 29 to file their reply brief. Respondents filed a non-opposition response today.
So, what does all this legal maneuvering mean to you, the thousands of Nevada families and children waiting in limbo? It means you must wait longer for answers.
I know this probably isn’t much comfort, but please know, your frustration is felt by the Treasurer and Attorney General and they are working diligently to get answers for Nevada families.
Asking for some finality to the process, State Treasurer Dan Schwartz today pointed out that parents
… are tired of defense funds, legal centers, and other groups who show up late in court to protest a program that asks the questions, “if we have spent billions and billions of dollars on our K-12 schools, why is our state ranked 50 out of 50 in education? If our schools are doing such an outstanding job, why is the high school dropout rate close to 50%, and over 65% for Hispanic groups? Not one of these groups answers these questions.
Attorney General Adam Laxalt — firmly supporting Schwartz and the ESA program — also stated:
As we have done from day one, my office will continue to provide the very best defense of Nevada’s ESA program possible, while also seeking to secure certainty for the thousands of Nevada families affected by these lawsuits as quickly as possible.
While many people see me as doing my job in advocating ESAs, I want you to know that my role at NPRI is not just a “job.” It is truly my passion to help families do what they know is best for their children’s education and future. I wholeheartedly feel for your families and what you are enduring. I have lived through being a parent stuck in the system. And, I see the turmoil and stress this roller coaster means on families within my own circle of family and friends. Like you, I struggle to keep the Zen. In all honesty, I draw much of my strength from the support I get from you. Your kind words, your trust in me and the patience you as parents directly affected show, keeps me grounded.
I have to remind myself — sometimes often — that, as my emotions run high, it is important to continue to respect our government process. And, as challenging as it may be sometimes, to let the courts run their course. In the long run, Nevada ESAs will sit on a much more solid foundation. If any changes are truly needed, fair and honest treatment of the questions in the courts will mean a solid foundation for ESAs, parents and our children in the long term.
It is the families of Nevada and our state’s honest leaders who will carry ESA beyond the court room, defense funds, legal centers, etc., and into the future. The petition sends the message to lawmakers that Nevada families want this program. If you put your address and email on the petition, we will be able to connect you with your lawmakers so you can make sure your elected representatives protect and secure the program.
Stay strong! And, #LetOurChildrenSucceed