Justice for All....
Last year, I traveled to the State Capitol in Nashville with two teachers and a grand-mom. We were there to protest school vouchers. But before the rally, the grand-mom and I went to visit our state senator, Brian Kelsey's office. We had something to deliver to him. It was a petition signed by over 300 parents and teachers at last year's Germantown Municipal School District 5K stampede.
We wanted Sen. Kelsey to vote against the ESA bill. We waited and waited until he finally came out of him office. I handed him the petition and told him we missed him at the GMSD 5K. He threw the petition back at me and asked, "why do you want to hurt children?" He then raised his voice and said, "I stand with Donald Trump." With that, he stormed out the door. It was the most bizarre encounter I have ever had with Sen. Kelsey or any other politician.
We lost that battle. The ESA Voucher Act passed by the skin of its teeth.
But yesterday, justice prevailed in a Nashville court when Chancellor Anne C. Martin ruled the ESA School Voucher Act to be in violation of the Home Rule Amendment of the Tennessee Constitution. In essence, it is wrong for the General Assembly to force school vouchers on Shelby County Schools and Metro Nashville Schools without local consent.
In an odd coincidence, Sen. Kelsey, a long time school voucher supporter in the state senate, made an appearance as an attorney from the Liberty Justice Center, representing parents who support vouchers. Sen. Kelsey claimed that the ESA Voucher Act was a pilot program with criteria in place for statewide expansion. But the Chancellor did not find his argument persuasive enough to overcome the Home Rule violation. Chancellor Martin wrote:
"...there is no dispute that the qualifications [to apply for school vouchers] were tailored, through multiple amendments, to only include those two school systems, and that bill sponsors could only secure passage from representatives against the bill if their district school systems were excluded."
And just like that, the scales of justice were in perfect balance...
You can read Chancellor Martin's orders and memorandum in their entirety below: