U.S. Supreme Court Decides in Favor of Arizona Students' Right to Learn English

June 25, 2009

On June 25, 2009, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Horne v. Flores, a case in which Kaye Scholer represented pro bono client, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, in drafting and filing an amicus brief to the Court in support of English Language Learner ("ELL") students in Arizona. They had sued state officials for civil rights violations under the Equal Educational Opportunities Act ("EEOA") for failing to address adequately language barriers in an Arizona school district. Our client sought to protect the viability of civil rights claims brought under the EEOA against the state officials' argument that those rights had been superseded by the testing guidelines set forth in the more recent No Child Left Behind Act ("NCLB"). Although in a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's ruling for the ELL students, and remanded for further factual findings, in an important victory for our client, the Supreme Court upheld ELL students' right to learn English and state officials' duty to ensure that ELL students overcome language barriers to do so, as required under the EEOA. The Supreme Court also struck down the state officials' argument that their compliance under the NCLB would satisfy compliance under the EEOA, thus ensuring the continued viability of civil right claims under the latter statute, our client's main goal in filing its brief.

W. Stewart Wallace, Litigation, New York, worked on this matter.

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