Cruz-Guzman v. State, A16-1265

CourtSupreme Court of Minnesota (US)
Writing for the CourtHUDSON, Justice.
Citation916 N.W.2d 1
Decision Date25 July 2018
Docket NumberA16-1265
Parties Alejandro CRUZ-GUZMAN, as guardian and next friend of his minor children, et al., Appellants/Cross-Respondents, v. STATE of Minnesota, et al., Respondents/Cross-Appellants, and Higher Ground Academy, et al., Defendants-Intervenors.

916 N.W.2d 1

Alejandro CRUZ-GUZMAN, as guardian and next friend of his minor children, et al., Appellants/Cross-Respondents,
v.
STATE of Minnesota, et al., Respondents/Cross-Appellants,
and
Higher Ground Academy, et al., Defendants-Intervenors.

A16-1265

Supreme Court of Minnesota.

Filed: July 25, 2018


Daniel R. Shulman, Joy Reopelle Anderson, Richard C. Landon, Kathryn E. Hauff, Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota; John G. Shulman, Jeanne-Marie Almonor, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Mel C. Orchard, III, The Spence Law Firm, LLC, Jackson, Wyoming; and James Cook, Law Office of John Burris, Oakland, California, for appellants/cross-respondents.

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Karen D. Olson, Deputy Attorney General, Kathryn M. Woodruff, Kevin A. Finnerty, Assistant Attorneys General, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for respondents/cross-appellants.

Jack Y. Perry, Michael W. Kaphing, Briggs and Morgan, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota; and John Cairns, John Cairns Law, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amici curiae Higher Ground Academy, et al. Teresa J. Nelson, John B. Gordon, American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and William Z. Pentelovich, Jesse D. Mondry, Maslon LLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota.

Will Stancil, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amici curiae Concerned Law Professors.

Eli M. Temkin, Jones Day, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Todd R. Geremia, James M. Gross, Jones Day, New York, New York; David G. Sciarra, Education Law Center, Newark, New Jersey; and Derek W. Black, Columbia, South Carolina, for amici curiae Education Law Center and the Constitutional and Education Law Scholars. Lewis A. Remele, Jr., Kate L. Homolka, Bassford Remele, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amici curiae Tiffini Flynn Forslund, et al.

Myron Orfield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for amicus curiae Myron Orfield.

OPINION

HUDSON, Justice.

916 N.W.2d 4

In this appeal, we must decide whether claims alleging that the State has failed to provide students with an adequate education are justiciable. Appellants, who are primarily parents of children enrolled in Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools, brought a putative class-action complaint on behalf of their children against respondents State of Minnesota and other State entities and officials. Appellants claim that the State has violated the Education, Equal Protection, and Due Process Clauses of the Minnesota Constitution. The State moved to dismiss the complaint on multiple grounds. The district court partially granted and partially denied the State's motion. The State filed an interlocutory appeal, and the court of appeals reversed, concluding that the complaint's claims present a nonjusticiable political

916 N.W.2d 5

question. We hold that separation-of-powers principles do not prevent the judiciary from ruling on whether the Legislature has violated its duty under the Education Clause or violated the Equal Protection or Due Process Clauses of the Minnesota Constitution. We also hold that the district court did not err when it denied the State's motion seeking to dismiss the complaint based on legislative immunity and the failure to join necessary parties. We therefore reverse the decision of the court of appeals.

FACTS

In November 2015, appellants Alejandro Cruz-Guzman, et al.,1 commenced an action against respondents State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Senate, the Minnesota House of Representatives, the Minnesota Department of Education, and Dr. Brenda Cassellius, the Commissioner of Education (collectively, the State).2 Appellants seek to represent "a class of children enrolled, or expected to be enrolled during the pendency of this action, in the Minneapolis Public Schools, Special School District No. 1, and the Saint Paul Public Schools, Independent School District 625." When we review the denial of a motion to dismiss, we consider only the facts alleged in the complaint, and we accept those facts as true. See Gretsch v. Vantium Capital, Inc. , 846 N.W.2d 424, 429 (Minn. 2014).

The complaint contains copious data demonstrating a "high degree of segregation based on race and socioeconomic status" in Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools. The public schools in Minneapolis and Saint Paul that appellants' children and other school-age children attend are "disproportionately comprised of students of color and students living in poverty, as compared with a number of neighboring and surrounding schools and districts." These segregated and "hyper-segregated" schools have significantly worse academic outcomes in comparison with neighboring schools and suburban school districts in measures such as graduation rates; pass rates for state-mandated Basic Standards Tests; and proficiency rates in math, science, and reading. Appellants describe these racially and socioeconomically segregated schools as "separate and unequal" from "neighboring and surrounding whiter and more affluent suburban schools" and detail the extensive harms of racial and socioeconomic segregation.

Appellants highlight several practices by the Minneapolis and Saint Paul public

916 N.W.2d 6

schools, other school districts, charter schools, and the State as contributing to school segregation and inadequate educational outcomes. The practices include boundary decisions for school districts and school attendance areas; the formation of segregated charter schools and the decision to exempt charter schools from desegregation plans; the use of federal and state desegregation funds for other purposes; the failure to implement effective desegregation remedies; and the inequitable allocation of resources.

Appellants assert that the State has violated its constitutional duty under the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution, Minn. Const. art. XIII, § 1. Appellants contend that in addition to failing to fulfill its constitutional duty under the Education Clause, the State has violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Minnesota Constitution, Minn. Const. art. I, §§ 2, 7, by enabling school segregation and depriving students of their fundamental right to an adequate education.

The complaint requests declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, appellants have asked the district court to permanently enjoin the State from "continuing to engage in the violations of law," to order the State to "remedy the violations of law," and to order the State "to provide the [students] forthwith with an adequate and desegregated education." Appellants did not bring any direct claims against either the Minneapolis Public Schools or the Saint Paul Public Schools, and do not directly seek any remedies from any school district or charter school.

The State moved to dismiss the complaint on multiple grounds, including lack of subject matter jurisdiction, failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and failure to join all interested persons. The district court concluded that Skeen v. State , 505 N.W.2d 299 (Minn. 1993), had "already held that Minnesota's Education Clause creates a fundamental right to education which will subject any state action that allegedly violates that right, including action by the legislature, to strict judicial scrutiny." The district court dismissed certain defendants from the action and dismissed the claims brought under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, but otherwise denied the motion to dismiss.

The State filed an interlocutory appeal, raising the following issues: (1) whether the district court erred by refusing to dismiss the complaint for lack of justiciability; (2) whether the district court erred by refusing to dismiss the claims against the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives based on legislative immunity; and (3) whether the district court erred by refusing to dismiss the complaint for failure to join individual school districts and charter schools as parties.

The court of appeals reversed, holding that appellants' claims "present a nonjusticiable political question." Cruz-Guzman v. State , 892 N.W.2d 533, 541 (Minn. App. 2017). While acknowledging that segregation claims are justiciable, the court decided that all of appellants' claims are "rooted in a purported right to an education of a certain quality." Id. at 536–37 n.1. The court concluded that resolving appellants' claims would "require[ ] establishment of a qualitative educational standard, which is a task for the legislature and not the judiciary." Id. at 541. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's order refusing to dismiss appellants' case for lack of justiciability. Id. Because the court's ruling on justiciability was dispositive, the court did not address the State's other arguments concerning legislative immunity or the failure to join necessary parties. See id. at 536, 541.

916 N.W.2d 7

We granted appellants' petition for further review, which raised the justiciability issue. We also granted the State's request for conditional cross-review, which asked us to review the legislative immunity and joinder issues.

ANALYSIS

This case comes to us on the State's appeal from the...

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24 practice notes
  • Citizens for Strong Sch., Inc. v. Fla. State Bd. of Educ., No. SC18-67
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 4, 2019
    ...without a remedy. Such a result is incompatible with the principle that where there is a right, there is a remedy. Cruz-Guzman v. State , 916 N.W.2d 1, 9 (Minn. 2018).The importance of education to the people of this State and to the State itself cannot be overstated. Education and educatio......
  • Delawareans for Educ. Opportunity v. Carney, C.A. No. 2018-0029-VCL
    • United States
    • Court of Chancery of Delaware
    • November 27, 2018
    ...91 S.W.3d 472, 492 (2002).276 See id. at 485–86.277 2 Debates , supra , at 1217.278 Minn. Const. art. XIII, § 1.279 Cruz-Guzman v. State , 916 N.W.2d 1, 9 (Minn. 2018) (quoting Board of Educ. Of Town of Sauk Centre v. Moore , 17 Minn. 412, 416 (1871) ).280 2 Debates , supra , at 1217.281 Pa......
  • N.H. v. Anoka-Hennepin Sch. Dist. No. 11, A19-1944
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • September 28, 2020
    ..., 505 N.W.2d 299, 313 (Minn. 1993) ("We hold that education is a fundamental right under the state constitution"); Cruz-Guzman v. State , 916 N.W.2d 1, 9, 11 (Minn. 2018) (noting that Education Clause "imposes an explicit ‘duty’ on the Legislature" (quotation omitted)). "[T]o establish a vi......
  • Olson v. Lesch, A18-1694
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • May 27, 2020
    ...provision and a statutory provision, and these interpretive questions are also subject to review de novo. Cruz-Guzman v. State , 916 N.W.2d 1, 7, 13 (Minn. 2018).3 I. We first turn to the Speech or Debate Clause of the Minnesota Constitution, Minn. Const. art. IV, § 10, and examine whether ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • Citizens for Strong Sch., Inc. v. Fla. State Bd. of Educ., No. SC18-67
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 4, 2019
    ...without a remedy. Such a result is incompatible with the principle that where there is a right, there is a remedy. Cruz-Guzman v. State , 916 N.W.2d 1, 9 (Minn. 2018).The importance of education to the people of this State and to the State itself cannot be overstated. Education and educatio......
  • Delawareans for Educ. Opportunity v. Carney, C.A. No. 2018-0029-VCL
    • United States
    • Court of Chancery of Delaware
    • November 27, 2018
    ...91 S.W.3d 472, 492 (2002).276 See id. at 485–86.277 2 Debates , supra , at 1217.278 Minn. Const. art. XIII, § 1.279 Cruz-Guzman v. State , 916 N.W.2d 1, 9 (Minn. 2018) (quoting Board of Educ. Of Town of Sauk Centre v. Moore , 17 Minn. 412, 416 (1871) ).280 2 Debates , supra , at 1217.281 Pa......
  • N.H. v. Anoka-Hennepin Sch. Dist. No. 11, A19-1944
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Minnesota
    • September 28, 2020
    ..., 505 N.W.2d 299, 313 (Minn. 1993) ("We hold that education is a fundamental right under the state constitution"); Cruz-Guzman v. State , 916 N.W.2d 1, 9, 11 (Minn. 2018) (noting that Education Clause "imposes an explicit ‘duty’ on the Legislature" (quotation omitted)). "[T]o establish a vi......
  • Olson v. Lesch, A18-1694
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • May 27, 2020
    ...provision and a statutory provision, and these interpretive questions are also subject to review de novo. Cruz-Guzman v. State , 916 N.W.2d 1, 7, 13 (Minn. 2018).3 I. We first turn to the Speech or Debate Clause of the Minnesota Constitution, Minn. Const. art. IV, § 10, and examine whether ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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