Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Preliminary Injunction and Bitter Fighting Among Top State Officials Over Nevada School Voucher Law

Litigation over Nevada's new school voucher program is getting messy.  As previously reported, two lawsuits have been filed challenging the voucher law. Then, as reported by This Is Reno, on January 8, a third lawsuit was filed by Nevada Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison, acting in his private capacity as a lawyer representing for free two Nevada families who want to participate in the voucher program.  He is asking the court for a declaratory judgment supporting the constitutionality of the plan, hoping that this will lead to a quicker ruling. The filing of this suit led to bitter criticism from the state attorney general and state treasurer. The attorney general quickly filed a motion to dismiss the suit (full text) (press release) and State Treasurer Dan Schwartz issued a flurry of releases critical of Hutchinson, and is quoted by the press as saying:
[Hutchison is] using this to fill his campaign coffers for political office. We’ve never seen the Lt. Governor at any of the hearings. I’ve never seen him at any of the workshops. He went about getting [information] surreptitiously from one of my staff. All [this lawsuit] is going to do is distract from our other cases, which are serious cases. It’s a political stunt. It’s a perversion of justice. He’s using the court system for his own political gain. I’m seriously considering asking him to resign.
Then yesterday, a state court judge in one of the other cases issued a preliminary injunction ordering the state treasurer to stop implementing the new law's educational savings accounts while the court hears challenges to the law. According to AP,  Carson City District Court Judge James Wilson concluded that plaintiffs had shown a reasonable chance of prevailing on the merits.  Implementation would have diverted $20 million from the public school budget.

UPDATE: Here is Judge Wilson's full opinion in Lopez v. Schwartz, (NV Dist. Ct., Jan 11, 2016) granting the preliminary injunction. [Thanks to Blog From the Capital for the lead.]