September 27, 2020

Volume X, Number 271

September 25, 2020

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Michigan Settlement Attempts to Moot Potential En Banc Review of Right-to-Literacy Ruling

Last night the State of Michigan and students from Detroit public schools reached a settlement agreement in a case concerning whether those students had a constitutional right of “access to literacy.” News reports indicate the settlement includes a legislative request by Gov. Whitmer for $94.5 million in literacy funding for Detroit schools, $280,000 for seven student plaintiffs, and creation of two task forces focused on educational quality.

As previously reported on this blog, a split Sixth Circuit panel found in Gary B. v. Whitmer  that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause protected a right to a basic minimum education, which included a “foundational level of literacy.”

The settlement with students comes shortly after the Michigan Legislature moved to intervene and tendered a petition for rehearing en banc. The court has not yet ruled on the Legislature’s motion to intervene. Additionally, the Michigan State Attorney General, on behalf of two of the State Board of Education members who are defendants in the suit, petitioned for rehearing en banc,  but, in an unusual filing, some defendants moved to withdraw the Rehearing petition filed by the same office on behalf of the other defendants. The parties indicated in a joint filing to the clerk that the student plaintiffs plan to move to dismiss the case in its entirety as moot.

Eagle-eyed appellate lawyers may have spotted a lurking question whether U.S. Bancorp Mortgage Co. v. Bonner Mall Partnership and the Munsingwear doctrine have any implications for the precedential status of the panel decision under these circumstances. We will stay tuned to see whether that question is asked or answered in the coming days.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 135


About this Author

Justin A. DiCharia Litigation Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Washington DC

Justin DiCharia is a litigator in the Washington DC office who focuses his practice on complex civil litigation. He has co-authored several articles on the firm’s Sixth Circuit Appellate Blog.

Graduating first in his class at Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Justin interned for Louisiana First Circuit Judge Guy Holdridge and Louisiana Fifth Circuit Judge Fredericka Wicker. Prior to law school, he reported at the Louisiana Statehouse for the Manship News Service, covering higher education, the state budget and state hospital funding.

Benjamin Beaton Litigation Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Cincinnati, OH

Benjamin Beaton is co-chair of the Appellate & Supreme Court Practice. He handles complex appeals, regulatory disputes and law-intensive trial proceedings. Ben has authored more than a dozen briefs at the US Supreme Court, where he previously served as a law clerk. He has drafted dozens more in the federal courts of appeal and state supreme courts, and regularly confers with trial and in-house counsel regarding appellate and motions strategy. Chambers has noted the firm’s “well-resourced appellate team, with notable experience in disputes heard before the Sixth Circuit.” The appellate group leads the Sixth Circuit Appellate Clinic in Cincinnati and publishes the Sixth Circuit Appellate Blog.

In trial and proceedings across the country, Ben has tried cases, briefed and argued dispositive motions, defended and examined high-profile witnesses and negotiated settlements. Outside the courtroom, Ben has drawn on his governmental experience to counsel a Fortune 100 CEO appearing before a US Senate committee, resolve congressional investigations of a major bank and represent many of the country’s largest financial institutions before the SEC. Many of Ben’s cases involve complex questions of healthcare, energy, technology, insurance and financial services regulation.

At the start of his legal career, Ben clerked on the US Supreme Court for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit for Judge A. Raymond Randolph. He also worked as a legal fellow in Uganda for the International Justice Mission and traveled to London and the Supreme Court of the UK as a Temple Bar Scholar.

A Kentucky native, Ben has handled appeals for the University of Kentucky and several other major institutions in the Commonwealth. He helped found the Kentucky Business Council in Washington DC and sits on the Board of Trustees for his alma mater, Centre College. Before attending law school, Ben served as deputy chief of staff for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and as a legislative assistant for a US Congressman.