The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided to drop its lawsuit against the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP) and continue its own review process. This action occurred weeks after the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and parents of children in the program submitted a motion for intervention.
In August, DOJ filed a lawsuit to block the LSP, claiming that it impedes the desegregation process that began nearly 40 years ago. But in reality, the scholarships have helped low-income minority students throughout Louisiana choose better educational options.
This attack on the LSP by the Obama Administration is part of a pattern of hostility toward school choice. But parents, local leadership, and policymakers dedicated themselves to protecting school choice in Louisiana.
Louisiana parents represented by attorneys from the Goldwater Institute and the BAEO asked the court to dismiss DOJ’s challenge to the school choice program. In their motion they argue that the very purpose of the 1975 court order resurrected by DOJ to attack the program was to provide better educational opportunities.
In response to the parents’ plea, DOJ requested that the court block intervention by the Louisiana families and the BAEO stating, “Applicants have not met the standards for intervention.”
But DOJ did not even meet its own standards for the suit. DOJ asked the court to extend a deadline to produce copies of desegregation orders and other supporting documents, which were supposedly the basis for its claims against the scholarship program.
In response to DOJ’s inability to readily produce the evidence upon which it had based its suit, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal asked:
[D]id the Department of Justice just ignore the documents and file a lawsuit against the state without having all of the information available? Thousands of Louisiana parents and their children deserve answers.
Then last month, 30 U.S. Senators sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, stating:
It seems to us that a program that rescues needy children from failing schools, gives families a chance to break the cycle of poverty and violence, and saves taxpayers millions of dollars each year is one that should be lauded by the federal government. Instead the Justice Department is working to sabotage it.
The Obama Administration’s actions put at risk the educational opportunities of thousands of low-income children who had finally gained access to schools that their parents had chosen. As Heritage explains in this Backgrounder:
By exploiting decades-old court orders, DOJ is asking a federal court to prevent Louisiana from giving students and parents the opportunity to leave failing schools.… Civil rights laws and the Constitution must not be applied in a way that harms the very students they were intended to help.
The families of the children who are flourishing as a result of voucher opportunities concur: Their children are the ones who stand to lose from the Obama Administration’s hostility toward school choice.
Julianne Bozzo is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.