Justin Driver on the Lawsuit Claiming a Constitutional Right to Education

The Lawsuit That’s Claiming a Constitutional Right to Education

A class-action lawsuit, which is being filed in federal court in Rhode Island Wednesday evening and was provided in advance to The Atlantic, argues that baked into the Constitution is an implicit guarantee of high-quality education—in fact, that the constitutional system could not function were this not the case.

If the lawsuit were to succeed in the nation’s highest court (if it even makes it there), it could usher in a major overhaul of the country’s education system.


In focusing on civics, the lawyers behind Cook v. Raimondo hope that they can appeal not just to liberals who are more inclined toward the establishment of a national right to education, but also to conservatives who’ve long advocated for improved civics education, which is often touted as a nonpartisan issue. “It’s a creative, shrewd effort to cobble together a coalition of liberals and conservatives,” says Justin Driver, a professor of law at the University of Chicago and the author of the new book The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind. Driver, who wasn’t involved in Cook, pointed to the fact that the retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, has dedicated her life after retiring from the bench to promoting civic learning.

Read more at The Atlantic