Initiative 42 is a constitutional amendment to ensure adequate funding for public schools in Mississippi.
The opponents claim that it is a “radical ploy to shift power from voters to judges.” The opponents make this claim because the amendment makes it clear that the adequate funding requirement would be enforceable by the state courts.
This claim is absolutely baffling. I have been practicing law in federal and state courts for 30 years. Going to court to ensure that governmental bodies follow the law is as common as dirt. It happens every day in courts all over this country.
I can also tell you from firsthand experience that judges in general are exceedingly respectful of the decisions of other governmental bodies. It is only when the train is really headed off the tracks that the courts will step in.
Far from being radical, the fact that government agencies can be held accountable in the courts — just like citizens — is a big reason our democracy is stable. Without this reality check, legislatures could pass feel-good laws with no intention of following them, which fatally erodes trust in government.
Come to think of it, that is exactly what happened with the law requiring adequate education funding in Mississippi.
It perhaps bears noting that if the adequate funding requirement had been enforced, then my 10th-grade daughter and her classmates might not be using a 10-year-old Mississippi history textbook that, of course, has no mention of Hurricane Katrina.