LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The next stage in the Arkansas LEARNS Act before the state Supreme Court was completed with a filing Friday.
The appellees of the case filed their brief with the court just before noon. This is the group that brought the original suit against LEARNS based on the legislative procedure used to place it into law.
The Attorney General’s office had filed its brief on behalf of the state Department of Education, using the court-assigned timeline, on July 27. The Friday filing was in response to that earlier brief and also in keeping with the court’s timeline.
The legislative procedure at issue centers on using emergency clauses to put the act into effect. The Arkansas constitution calls for emergency clause votes to be a second vote, but long-standing legislative procedure had that second vote and the vote for or against the legislation to be made simultaneously as one vote.
Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Herbert Wright ruled on June 30 that the emergency clause added to the education omnibus bill did not receive its separate vote, as required by the Arkansas Constitution, rendering the law unable to go into effect until Aug. 1.
The Attorney General’s initial filing asked the Supreme Court to review the decision. The court had earlier overruled Wright’s temporary restraining order issued for the same reason.
The Appellees, through their Friday filing made through attorney Ali Noland, argue that if the court overturns the circuit court decision, it would “leave state actors free to violate the Arkansas Constitution at will.” It continues that other rulings on the original filing have not yet been made and remain with the circuit court.
Also, since Aug. 1 has passed, the date the law went into effect without an emergency clause, the argument is moot and does not require court action, the appellees argue.
They also argue, counter to the Attorney General’s argument, that at issue is a legal and not a political question based upon the court’s history.
It asks that the Supreme Court either dismiss the appeal as being moot or rule in favor of the circuit court’s decision.
The Attorney General now has seven days to respond to the appellees’ filing.
Over 200 pieces of legislation were filed in the most recent session with an emergency clause.