Supreme Court Rules Newsom’s School Closures Unconstitutional

Oakland Technical High School students stand in front of the marquee after it was announced that all Oakland schools would close for three weeks over coronavirus concerns on March 13, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

The U.S Court of Appeals recently announced that California Gov. Gavin Newsom violated his leadership role and the constitutional rights of parents by shutting down kids’ schools at the height of the pandemic last year. While the court agreed that Newsom had the authority to close public schools, he did not have it in his power to close private schools.

The Conservative Center for American Liberty, which included parents from both private and public schools, challenged Newsom’s shutdown in the court. Both the Supreme Court and the court recognized Newsom’s ability to shut down public schools, but ruled differently for private schools.

“We reach a different conclusion, however, as to the State’s interference in the in-person provision of private education to the children of five of the Plaintiffs in this case. California’s forced closure of their private schools implicates a right that has long been considered fundamental under the applicable caselaw—the right of parents to control their children’s education and to choose their children’s educational forum,” Judge Daniel P. Collins wrote.

Judge Collins went on to explain that the ban on in-person schooling abridges a “fundamental liberty” of the Plaintiffs and that they do not believe the closure orders can survive such scrutiny. He said that Newsom lacked the authority to shut down the schools in the first place and that the widely availably vaccines shouldn’t prevent or halt any future in-person instruction.

Newsom’s office announced that the state expects to fully reopen their schools by the fall time even though COVID-19 cases have started surging again. They said through science and data they can meet the needs of students and return to in-person learning quickly. Some are worried that the state will fall back into lockdown measures and government-mandated restrictions, with the latest Emerson College poll showing voters wanting Newsom gone right now.

In the poll, voters were asked if they wanted to “recall or keep” Newsom, in which 43% said they wanted to recall him and 48% wanted to keep him. 9% remain undecided. Nearly six out of ten voters said it was time for him to go. A third of the voters described Newsom’s response to the pandemic as “poor.” It wasn’t surprising when Vice President Kamala Harris, equally miserable and unpopular in the polls, announced she would be supporting Newsom in the upcoming recall election.

The head of the Center for American Liberty Harmeet Dhillon said they were thrilled with the court’s ruling but are disappointed that the Ninth Circuit did not acknowledge or make the same ruling for all students, including those in private schools. She said all students deserve the basic right to an education and that they will continue to advocate for the educational rights of all students.

The group says they’ve seen a significant decline in engagement, motivation, and enthusiasm for learning in children. Some parents said they were worried about the long-term effects, psychologically, if Newsom tries to keep the schools closed. Parents, districts, and teachers should have the say in a child’s education, not the governor.

You can tell a law is pretty bad when even the Superior Court can’t find out why it’s been enforced. Between zero water infrastructure, decriminalizing theft, having the highest taxes in the states, and now prolonging unconstitutional school closures. There’s a reason more people are leaving California than coming. Newsom has become the face of Democrat tyranny.