Friday, April 14, 2006

$20 down on certiorari

The Nebraska unicameral legislature went out with a bang this time as most of the state senators are the first to leave under the recently adopted term limits. And although I don't think any cases have been filed yet, I would put $20 down on certiorari being granted for a case involving one thing they did.

Omaha has been trying for some time to swallow up suburban school districts into the Omaha Public School district. This has been in the news for some time around here, and the legislature finally decided to act on it. So what did they do? Did they let OPS annex the other school districts to make one even larger super-district.

Nope. They split up OPS into three districts.

Many people are crying "segregation" over this, saying that Nebraska is the first state in 20 years to try to segregate schools. Ernie Chambers, a crazy nutbag of a state senator (who is black and represents the affected people in particular), says it will be good for the minority children because decisions will be made by people who know what they need and care about them. But Brown v. Board says that segregation is unconstitutional even if it's in the minority children's interests. But Chambers also said that under the OPS regime there was de facto discrimination and segregation by the OPS board (who I have previously criticized in three parts: one, two, and three) and that this measure will rectify the situation.

The attorney general of Nebraska himself has said he has grave concerns about the move. He could end up on either side of this case, depending on what he concludes about it, as I understand his duties.

Although the districts have been drawn on racial lines (some who were against the bill said there was no other way to draw them) there may be some saving graces built into the statute. It makes uniform tax levies, which as I understand it will give the districts relatively equal amounts of tax money. The districts will work together on some issues. And it puts the burden on the school districts themselves to integrate. We will see if that last one is enough to save it from being found unconstitutional, because I'd put another $5 down that this will be the element that will be the most fiercely litigated and scrutinized by the courts.

Now, are there any takers?


  1. I'd just like to add that I'm not actually taking bets on this . . . I'm pretty sure that's the kind of thing that would keep me from taking the bar.

  2. I object on to the characterization of Ernie Chambers as a "crazy nutbag of a state senator".

    Ernie is the best thing to happen to the Nebraska legislature since George Norris. His masterful use of procedure has allowed some Nebraska laws from being the butt of national jokes. (i.e. a constitutional right to hunt?)

    I understand that he does come off a little strong sometimes and I personally disagree with his views on religion and its place in government. However, he is what allows Nebraska to retain a unicamerial legislature. When he is gone, there will be no check on the wills of the other poorly paid senators.

    I would vote for Ernie Chambers for governor if were he were to run. No matter what your personal view of him you must agree that he more than adequately represents his constituents. That is more than can be said for some other reprsentatives from Nebraska who tend to see the state as being split in two, Lincoln/Omaha and everything else.

  3. Whenever they say something "will be better for the kids", they always mean acaedmically- same with same sex schools. Theres more to education than that.

  4. I don't know your senator, but Brown V. BOE pretty much addresses that last issue. Though not impossible, because times have changed, as has the makeup of SCOTUS, it will probably be very difficult to keep the statute if someone does decide to litigate.

    And given how controversial it appears, there proably will be a dozen or so groups litigating it in the near future.

    Since I'm not familiar with the legislation, I'm wondering what the purported educational benefit is to the students under this new scheme?

  5. Moise, don't get me wrong. I think that Chambers was a highly valuable member of the unicameral, especially in his ability to keep all the other senators on their toes. I still think he's a nutbag though.

  6. I think that just about anything would be preferrable to the monster of a school district we have now. Something has needed to put OPS in their place for a long time, and I'm glad it's finally happening.

    I think it would have been better to divide the districts based on income rather than race; it doesn't smack of segregation that way. But at least with Chambers supporting this, the whole race card isn't going to be as big of a factor. If they truly divide the tax income up fairly, it shouldn't be too big of a problem.

    Oh yeah, and George Norris was a uniformly horrible politician outside of his stance on war.

  7. This just in: