Contact: Charles Siler
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
LOUISIANA VOUCHER COURT HEARING BARS SCHOLARSHIP FAMILIES FROM PARTICIPATING
A court hearing scheduled for this Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court in New Orleans will begin to decide the fate of the Louisiana scholarship program---but it will be conducted behind closed doors and lawyers for the scholarship families were excluded from participation.
Federal judge Ivan Lemelle will conduct a telephonic hearing at which the U.S. Department of Justice will argue for a cumbersome pre-approval process based on racial balance considerations. The State of Louisiana will argue that such a process would impede private school scholarships for thousands of economically disadvantaged children, most of them black, who previously were consigned to poor-performing public schools.
The Goldwater Institute represents the Black Alliance for Educational Options as well as scholarship families, arguing that the district court lacks jurisdiction over the program under a decades-old order regarding state-funded textbooks for private schools. The court denied the parents' motion to intervene in the lawsuit to defend the program, in a ruling that is under review currently by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The court granted the parents "friend of the court" status, but refused their request to monitor the hearing, even though the outcome of the case could have dramatic repercussions for their children.
"Judge Lemelle's ruling barring families from the courtroom is outrageous, given that their fate is at issue," declared Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute vice president for litigation. "The entire proceeding is unlawful, and holding it behind closed doors makes matters even worse." Bolick said the exclusion of parents will buttress their argument in the Court of Appeals that they should be allowed to intervene in the case.
To schedule an interview with Clint Bolick, please contact Charles Siler at (602) 633-8960 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Goldwater Institute has an in-house VideoLink studio for rapid cable hook-up if needed.