Neel Kashkari plugging the "Page" Amendment - Mpls Fed photo
by Steve Timmer
Apr 18, 2022, 9:30 AM

Strolling through the garden of logical fallacies – II

An apocalypse in four words

In the briefest of reprise: I wrote a Commentary critical of the so-called “Page Amendment” that was published in the Minnesota Reformer on March 28th; four lawyers associated with initiative had a Counterpoint to it that was published in the Reformer on April 8th. Then, on April 14th, the Reformer published a response to the Counterpoint by Dan Shulman, the dean of education civil rights litigation lawyers in Minnesota. Dan is the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs in Cruz-Guzman v. Minnesota.

(I am also writing a series that addresses issues in the Counterpoint; this is the second one; the first one is here.)

Now that we have all that straightened out, we can get down to cases, so to speak.

– o O o –

In the counterpoint, the Page Amendment supporter lawyers took issue with my statement that the amendment had the effect of – perhaps was even designed to – repeal two important education civil rights cases in Minnesota: Skeen v. Minnesota and Cruz-Guzman v. Minnesota.

The lawyers said, Nothing could be further from the truth! The Page Amendment has nothing to do with Cruz-Guzman! Besides, the Cruz-Guzman plaintiffs just lost in court!

All in all, it reminded me of the goat defense: I don’t have a goat; it didn’t eat your cabbages, and besides, they were rotten anyway. In law school, at least the one I went to, they teach you not to use the goat defense. Thank you, Jack Cound.

I really want you, gentle readers, to click on this link to Dan Shulman’s reply to the lawyer Greek chorus supporting the Page Amendment. Of all the online newspapers in all the towns in all the world, Dan Shulman had to walk into theirs. They can try to dismiss me as a crank, but they can’t do that to Dan Shulman. He writes:

[T]he piece makes it appear that our lawsuit has been dismissed by the court. This is not so. The proceedings referenced in the piece involved only a motion for partial summary judgment that the state had violated the Education Clause by allowing and failing to correct segregation by race and socioeconomic status (“SES”) in the Minneapolis and St. Paul districts.

The Cruz-Guzman plaintiffs didn’t lose, they just didn’t win summarily, as in, We have to have a trial. That district court decision is now on appeal, but as lawyers will tell you – and as they learn from judges all the time – summary judgment motions are hard to win. The case is not dead by any means; the defendants in Cruz-Guzman, including the charter school defendants, still face stiff head winds.

It isn’t exactly the crowing triumph the Greek chorus lawyers would lead you to believe.

On the effect of the Page Amendment on the judgment in Cruz-Guzman in the Supreme Court in 2018, Shulman writes this:

Finally, the statement that “the Cruz-Guzman suit has no relation to the Page Amendment” is false. The Page Amendment proposes to strip away the four key requirements of the Education Clause — that the Legislature establish and fund general, uniform, thorough, and efficient [emphasis added: the four words] public school systems — which are the underpinnings of our claim that racial and SES segregation violate the Education Clause.

Elimination of these requirements, as the Page Amendment seeks to do, threatens to take us back to the bad old days of “separate but equal.”

I don’t have anything to add to that.

Well, I do, but it’ll have to wait until next time.

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