246 Cal.App.4th 896, A134423, Campaign for Quality Education v. State

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtJENKINS, J.
JudgeSIGGINS, J., Concurring. POLLAK, J., Dissenting.
Citation__ Cal.Rptr.3d __,246 Cal.App.4th 896
Docket NumberA134424,A134423
PartiesCAMPAIGN FOR QUALITY EDUCATION et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA et al., Defendants and Respondents. MAYA ROBLES-WONG et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA et al. Defendants and Respondents CALIFORNIA TEACHERS ASSOCIATION, Intervener and Appellant.

Page 896

246 Cal.App.4th 896

__ Cal.Rptr.3d __

CAMPAIGN FOR QUALITY EDUCATION et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,

v.

THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA et al., Defendants and Respondents.

MAYA ROBLES-WONG et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,

v.

THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA et al. Defendants and Respondents

CALIFORNIA TEACHERS ASSOCIATION, Intervener and Appellant.

Nos. A134423, A134424

California Court of Appeals, First District, Third Division

April 20, 2016

Alameda County Superior Court Nos. RG10524770, RG10515768 Hon. Steven A. Brick

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COUNSEL

Public Advocates, Inc., John Thomas Affeldt, Tara Kini, Sophia Lai; Arnold & Porter, Deborah S. Schlosberg Sara J. Eisenberg Gabriel N. White Steven L. Mayer, Martin R. Glick; Munger Tolles & Olson, Rohit Kumar Singla and Leo Goldbard for Plaintiff and Appellant Campaign for Quality Education.

Bingham Mccutchen, Frank B. Kennamer, Sandra Z. Nierenberg, Gretchen E. Groggel, Elisa Cervantes; William S. Koski, Carly J. Munson; King & Spalding and William F. Abrams for Plaintiff and Appellant Robles-Wong.

Olson, Hagel & Fishburn, Deborah B. Caplan, Joshua R. Daniels and Matthew R. Cody for Plaintiffs and Appellants Robles-Wong, CSBA, ACSA, California State PTA, and School Districts.

Abe Hajela for Robles-Wong, CSBA, ACSA and California State PTA.

Lowenstein Sandler, Stephen R. Buckingham, Alison Price Corbin; Davis Wright Tremaine and Rochelle Lyn Wilcox for Education Law Center and Campaign for Educational Equity as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.

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Cynthia Louise Rice and Franchesca Gonzalez for Maria Medina as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Santiago Avila-Gomez for Californians Together as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Crowell & Moring, Steven D. Allison, David D. Johnson, Tracy E. Reichmuth and Joel D. Smith for Delaine Eastin and Jack O’Connell as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Holland & Knight, Cameron G. Stout, Douglas Karpa and Daniel R. Golub for Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Goodwin Procer, Nicole S. Cuningham and Nicole S. Naghi for Counsel for Children Now, Education Trust-West and California Association for School Business Officials as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Laura P. Juran and Jean Shin for Intervener and Appellant.

Edmund G. Brown Jr., Governor, Ana Matosantos, Director of Finance, John Chiang, State Controller, Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Julie Weng-Gutierrez, Assistant Attorney General, Nimrod Elias, Ernest Martinez, Lisa Tillman, Jonathan E. Rich, Joshua Nathan Sondheimer, Pauline Gee and Ismael A. Castro, Deputy Attorneys General, for Defendants and Respondents.

OPINION

JENKINS, J.

In these consolidated appeals, appellants ask us to reinstate their claims in which they seek declaratory and injunctive relief on the ground that respondents are allegedly violating sections 1 and 5 of article IX of the California Constitution.1 Appellants’ claims are general in nature. They allege the constitutional sections provide for a judicially-enforceable right to an education of “some quality” for all public school children, and, alternatively, that the Legislature is currently violating its constitutional obligations to “provide for” and “keep up and support” the “system of common schools” by its current educational financing system. However, we find no support for finding implied constitutional rights to an education of “some quality” for public school children or a minimum level of expenditures for education, as appellants urge us to read into sections 1 and 5 of article IX. To the contrary,

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the language of these constitutional sections do not include qualitative or funding elements that may be judicially enforced by the courts. Rather, the constitutional sections leave the difficult and policy-laden questions associated with educational adequacy and funding to the legislative branch. Consequently, we must affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the complaints as appellants have failed to state a claim for which judicial relief may be accorded them.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The two lawsuits before us were deemed related but not consolidated in the trial court. In Campaign for Quality Education v. State of California (CQE), plaintiffs are several nonprofit associations and guardians ad litem for minor students attending public schools in California, as well as one adult taxpayer and homeowner and two adult taxpayers and homeowners who are parents of students attending public schools in California. Similarly, in Maya Robles-Wong v. State of California

(Robles-Wong), plaintiffs are several nonprofit associations and guardians ad litem for several students attending public schools in California, as well as several California school districts. Intervener California Teachers Association filed a complaint-in-intervention in the Robles-Wong action. Defendants in each action are the State of California and various named persons sued in their official capacities as state officers.

In their operative complaints, all named plaintiffs and intervener (collectively appellants) seek declaratory and injunctive relief based, in pertinent part, on allegations that all named defendants (collectively respondents) are violating sections 1 and 5 of article IX. The overarching nature of the causes of action sought to be reinstated are based on allegations that all public school children have a constitutional right to an education of “some quality, ” and, alternatively, that the Legislature is currently failing to meet its constitutional duty by employing an irrational educational funding scheme. According to appellants, the Legislature’s current method of funding education fails to ensure that all public school children have the opportunity to become educationally proficient according to current legislatively-mandated academic standards.

Resolving respondents’ separate demurrer and motion for judgment on the pleadings, the trial court sustained the demurrer and granted the motion for judgment on the pleadings, without leave to amend, as to those portions of the causes of action alleging that respondents are violating sections 1 and 5 of article IX. The court granted appellants the right to amend their complaints

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relative to other causes of action, but appellants declined to do so. Accordingly, the court entered judgments dismissing the lawsuits in their entirety. Appellants’ timely appeals ensued. 2

DISCUSSION

I. Introduction

In ruling on a demurrer or motion for judgment on the pleadings, the trial court examines the pleading to determine whether it alleges facts sufficient to state a cause of action under any legal theory, with the facts being assumed true for purposes of this inquiry. (Committee for Green Foothills v. Santa Clara County Bd. of Supervisors (2010) 48 Cal.4th 32, 42 [105 Cal.Rptr.3d 181, 224 P.3d 920] (Committee for Green Foothills); Pang v. Beverly Hospital, Inc. (2000) 79 Cal.App.4th 986, 989 [94 Cal.Rptr.2d 643].) Our review is de novo. (Committee for Green Foothills, supra, 48 Cal.4th at p. 42; Schabarum v. California Legislature (1998) 60 Cal.App.4th 1205, 1216 [70 Cal.Rptr.2d 745] (Schabarum).) “[W]e treat the properly pleaded allegations of [the] complaint as true, and also consider those matters subject to judicial notice. [Citations.]” (Alliance Mortgage Co. v. Rothwell (1995) 10 Cal.4th 1226, 1232 [44 Cal.Rptr.2d 352, 900 P.2d 601].) "[T]he allegations of the complaint must be liberally construed with a view to attaining substantial justice among the parties. [Citation.] If there is any reasonable possibility that plaintiff can state a good cause of action, it is error and an abuse of discretion to sustain the demurrer without leave to amend. [Citations.] However, leave to amend is properly denied if the facts and nature of plaintiffs’ claims are clear and under the substantive law, no liability exists. [Citations.]” (Beck v. County of San Mateo (1984) 154 Cal.App.3d 374, 379 [201 Cal.Rptr. 365].)

As noted, appellants limit their appeals to seeking reinstatement of those portions of the causes of action that seek to impose liability on respondents for their alleged violations of sections 1 and 5 of article IX.[3] Appellants urge us to hold that their claims are justiciable in that if we were to remand the

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cases for trial, they would be able to demonstrate that the Legislature’s current education finance system is in violation of the fundamental right to an education guaranteed by article IX, and, the legislative and executive branches of the state should be compelled to take “appropriate action under court supervision.” However, even assuming the truth of the facts as alleged in the complaints, appellants have failed to state causes of action based on alleged violations of sections 1 and 5 of article IX by respondents.

II. Principles of Constitutional Interpretation

“[I]t is well established that it is a judicial function to interpret the law, including the Constitution, and when appropriately presented in a case or controversy, to declare when an act of the Legislature or the executive is beyond the constitutional authority vested in those branches.” (Schabarum, supra, 60 Cal.App.4th at p. 1213.) We must “ ‘ “enforce the provisions of our Constitution and ‘may not lightly disregard or blink at... a clear constitutional mandate.’ ” ’ ” (County of Riverside v. Superior Court (2003) 30 Cal.4th 278, 285 [132...

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