“Jeb!” Doc screams, leaping from the time machine. “You’ve got to come back with me!”
“Back to the Future!” Doc replies as he scrambles through Jeb’s trash. “It’s the kids Jeb, something has got to be done about the kids!”
After completing a hovercar retrofit to his DeLorean in 2015, Doc travels back to 2006 for what he thought would be a relaxing Florida vacation. Instead, he discovers a surprise Florida Supreme Court decision that overturned his friend’s 1999 voucher program, the Opportunity Scholarship.
Having explained the future to Jeb, they would travel to 2001 to create a new scholarship program to evade the flawed but inevitable 2006 ruling.
Of course, this is nonsense, but many school choice opponents make a very similar argument.
But the ruling didn’t kill vouchers,” Frank Cerabino wrote of the 2006 Supreme Court cases in a Palm Beach Post column. “It just made voucher entrepreneurs more crafty and meant that the public dollars being siphoned to private — and often religious — schools would have to be managed with the same bit of clever opacity that drug dealers employ when laundering their riches.”
Somehow, a 2006 Florida Supreme Court ruling caused “voucher entrepreneurs” to get “more crafty” when they created the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship back in 2001.
Florida’s collective memory on Bush v. Holmes apparently has been lost. Here’s what actually happened.
Bush v. Holmes, a widely panned ruling, was decided on Jan. 5, 2006. The ruling struck down the Opportunity Scholarship, a private school voucher that served 734 students, 86% of whom were Black or Hispanic.
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, which was known as the Florida Corporate Income Tax Scholarship at the time, was pre-filed by the Florida House of Representatives on Nov. 11, 2000. Gov. Jeb Bush signed it into law on June 13, 2001.
Not only was the program created years before the Florida Supreme Court ruling, but the program was debated and passed at a time when it was 100% constitutional!
In fact, school choice opponents actually were losing in court.
On Oct. 3, 2000 (more than a month before the scholarship was pre-filed with the House), the Florida Court of Appeal overturned Judge Smith’s lower court ruling. In a unanimous decision, the justices declared, “Article IX does not unalterably hitch the requirement to make adequate provision for education to a single, specified engine, that being the public school system.”
This was a rejection of the future Supreme Court’s 2006 ruling that the state’s paramount duty to public education meant the Legislature could provide no alternatives.
Best of all, the Florida Supreme Court actually agreed.
On April 24, 2001, by a 4-1 decision, it declined to hear the case and allowed the Court of Appeal ruling to stand. That was 13 days before the Florida Legislature passed the bill and 48 days before Jeb Bush signed it into law.
Ironically, Justices Pariente, Wells, Anstead and Lewis were the majority in 2001. Five years later, they’d make a surprise reversal by declaring the program unconstitutional on the very same constitutional issues they rejected years before.
Yes, you read that right.
The very constitutional issues that overturned the Opportunity Scholarship in 2006 were not even in play when the new scholarship was created because the courts had tossed those arguments out.
Maybe Jeb knew this would happen because the Doc’s mindreading machine actually worked.
But that’s a conspiracy for another day.