Recently Decided Cases – Civil

Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County et al. v. Tennessee Department of Education, et al. (Constitutional Challenge to State Statute-Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program).

Style: Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County et al. v. Tennessee Department of Education, et al.

TSC Docket Number: M2020-00683-SC-R11-CV

Date of TSC Opinion:   May 18, 2022.

Opinion of the TSC:   Click here

Concurring Dissenting Opinion:  Click here

TSC Summary of the Opinion:

This case is before us on an interlocutory appeal limited to a single claim: Plaintiffs’2
constitutional challenge to the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program (the
“ESA Act” or the “Act”), Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 49-6-2601 to -2612, under article XI, section
9 of the Tennessee Constitution (the “Home Rule Amendment” or the “Amendment”). The
trial court held that Plaintiffs had standing to pursue this claim and denied Defendants’
motions to dismiss on that basis. The court held that the ESA Act is unconstitutional under
the Home Rule Amendment and granted Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on this
claim. The trial court then sua sponte granted Defendants an interlocutory appeal, and the
Court of Appeals granted their application for an interlocutory appeal by permission
pursuant to Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Court of Appeals
affirmed the trial court’s judgment with respect to the issue of standing and the issue of the
constitutionality of the ESA Act under the Home Rule Amendment. We hold that Plaintiffs
have standing to bring their Home Rule Amendment claim and affirm the judgment of the
Court of Appeals with respect to that issue. However, we hold that the ESA Act does not
implicate the Home Rule Amendment such that the Act is not rendered unconstitutional by
the Amendment, and we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals with respect to that
issue. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court with respect to Plaintiffs’ claim under
the Home Rule Amendment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the trial court for entry
of a judgment dismissing that claim, for further proceedings consistent with this opinion,
and for consideration of Plaintiffs’ remaining claims.

Final Paragraph of Concurring Dissenting Opinion:

For these reasons, I agree the Plaintiffs have standing because of the ESA Act’s
harm to their sovereignty. But I respectfully dissent from the Court’s decision on the
constitutionality of the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program under the
Home Rule Amendment. I would find the ESA Act unconstitutional.

Link to Court of Appeals Opinion: https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/metropolitangov.ofnash.v.tndepart.ofedu_.opn_.pdf

Summary by the Court of Appeals:  

Davidson and Shelby counties sued the State of Tennessee to challenge the constitutionality of the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program. The trial court found that both counties had standing and that the act was unconstitutional under paragraph 2 of article XI, section 9 of the Tennessee Constitution. The State and intervening defendants appealed. We affirm.

Permission to Appeal Granted: February 4, 2021

Appellants’ Briefs Filed: March 8, 2021

Appellees’ Briefs Filed:  April 7, 2021

Appellants’ Reply Brief Filed: April 21, 2021

Appellees’ Reply Brief Filed:   None

Amicus Briefs Permitted:  Yes, multiple briefs.

Oral Argument Date: June 3, 2021

Link to Oral Argument Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWibEJvm8PU

Post-argument Briefing As Requested by the Court:

Appellant’s supplemental brief: filed July 2, 2021

Appellees’ response to Appellant’s supplemental brief:  filed July 12, 2021

 

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