A hearing is scheduled today in federal court to address the legal remedy proposed by plaintiffs in the case of Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies classes. Attorneys are set to offer their oral arguments at 9:30 a.m. in Judge Wallace Tashima’s courtroom.
The State’s attorney, Karen Hartman-Tellez is expected to argue that the remedy sought by plaintiffs is “overbroad.”
Judge Tashima found that state officials acted with discriminatory intent when they declared that the classes violated a state law that prevented pedagogy that promoted resentment against a group of people based solely on their race or ethnicity.
The plaintiffs are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as an award of attorneys’ fees and costs. Plaintiffs want a “declaration that the past enforcement of ARS § 15-112 by Defendants – including all prior orders, decisions, restrictions, terminations, threats, and resolutions – violated Plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.”
They also want a declaration that the continued enforcement of ARS § 15-112 “including present monitoring of TUSD’s Culturally Relevant Courses to ensure compliance with ARS § 15-112 violates Plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.”
Plaintiffs want a permanent injunction prohibiting the State from “enforcing, investigating, monitoring, or reviewing any matter pursuant to ARS § 15-112 and prohibiting Defendants from taking any unconstitutional actions against an ethnic studies program.”
“In framing their proposed declaratory relief, Plaintiffs seem to take the position that because the Court concluded that those who enacted A.R.S. § 15-112 did so with discriminatory intent as a motivating factor, any enforcement of the law violated Plaintiffs’ rights,” wrote the State’s attorneys. “But until this Court’s August 22, 2017 Order, the only determination regarding the constitutionality of A.R.S. § 15-112 was that one of its subsections was overbroad under the First Amendment, and that it was otherwise “not discriminatory on its face.”
The State’s attorneys argue that since current Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas is not enforcing the law, there is no need for an injunction to prevent the State from enforcing the law. “….because the factual findings end with Huppenthal’s last days in office, there is no evidence of “continued enforcement” of A.R.S. § 15-112 or “present monitoring” of TUSD’s Culturally Relevant Courses under the statute. While discovery revealed that ADE monitored TUSD’s compliance with A.R.S. § 15-112 in early 2015, after Superintendent Douglas took office, such monitoring is not presently occurring. Indeed, the current Defendants have taken no action to withhold funding from TUSD or bar it from providing its Culturally Relevant Courses. In view of the Court’s determination that A.R.S. § 15-112 is unconstitutional, there is no risk that there will be any “continued enforcement,” wrote the State’s attorney in the Response To Plaintiffs’ Remedy Brief.