Walsh, Anderson, Gallegos, Green & Treviño, P.C.
The Dawg is pleased to report the results of “March Madness Comes to School Law!” Thanks to all who participated in choosing the Most Important School Law Case of All Time. To the surprise of no one, the winner is BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION. This is a well deserved recognition of a Supreme Court decision that is not only the Most Important School Law Case of All Time, but certainly ranks right near the top of Most Important Cases of the 20th Century.
Coming in second was SAN ANTONIO ISD v. RODRIGUEZ, losing the championship match to BROWN by 75% to 25%. It was a bit of a surprise to see this case last as long as it did—perhaps reflecting a Texas bias? The Dawg has always thought of the RODRIGUEZ case as noteworthy not for what it did, but for what it did not do. This is the case where the Supreme Court held that education is NOT a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution. It gave birth to decades of litigation (still going on!) about the constitutionality of school funding formulas under the Texas Constitution.
Two good cases made it to the Final Four but were defeated there. BROWN defeated NEW JERSEY v. T.L.O. in a landslide: 96% to 4%. Nevertheless, we are fond of T.L.O. for two reasons. The case shows that the most mundane student discipline incident can end up before the U.S. Supreme Court—in this case it was smoking in the bathroom. And then there is the name of the assistant principal whose search of T.L.O.’s purse led to this litigation. The man was named Mr. Choplick. Has there ever been a better name for a junior high assistant principal?
TINKER v. DES MOINES also made it to the Final Four but was trounced by the RODRIGUEZ case 65% to 35%. This was the biggest upset of the tournament, as the Smart Money had TINKER as the overall number two seed behind BROWN. Perhaps that result shows that voters care more about school finance than student free speech. In any event, we wore a black armband for a week after the demise of TINKER. And if you don’t understand that reference, pull out your copy of The Educator’s Guide to Texas School Law.
Special ed types got BOARD OF EDUCATION v. ROWLEY into the Elite Eight but it ended there, as ROWLEY lost to TINKER by a vote of 56% to 44%, one of the closest contests we had. Private school advocates probably favored PIERCE v. SOCIETY OF SISTERS which also made it past the first round. And hats off to GOSS v. LOPEZ and WEST VIRGINIA v. BARNETTE as well.
The Dawg hopes you enjoyed this diversion.