The federal appellate court has ruled that the U.S. Constitution includes the right to “basic minimum education,” which according to Michigan State attorneys was denied by a group of Detroit Public School students.
In a 2-1 ruling issued Thursday, the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the US Supreme Court had not directly answered the question whether such rights existed.
“The state’s provisions for basic minimum education have long been present in our history and traditions, and it is very important for our concept of orderly constitutional freedom,” the court’s ruling. “Based on the case of the substantive legal proceedings of the Supreme Court, this shows that it must be recognized as a fundamental right.”
The verdict came in a 2016 lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of students from some of the lowest performing public schools in Detroit. The essence of their complaint is that without basic literacy, they cannot access other rights that are guaranteed constitutionally like elections, serving in the military and in juries.
The lawsuit was filed against the State of Michigan, which has been running the district for years through the appointment of an emergency manager.
Tiffany Brown, spokeswoman for Governor Gretchen Whitmer, said the state was reviewing the ruling, but did not comment more than that. Mayor Mike Duggan announced the discovery.
“Today’s ruling by the US Court of Appeals that Detroit schoolchildren have the right to basic facilities, teaching and educational material is a step forward,” Duggan said in a statement. “Literacy is something that every child must have a fair chance to achieve. We hope that instead of making another appeal, the parties sit down and focus on how to make literacy available to every child in Michigan. “
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