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Education is not a Fundamental

The  federal constitution of the united states of America doesn’t give a right to free Education to its citizens. This right is found in the constitutions of the various states. The states have put provisions in their constitution which  guarantee  free Education through the twelfth grade (Armor, 1995). This provision is popularly referred to as the Education article. This is evidenced in the ruling of the  case San  Antonio Independent School  District v Rodriguez , 411 U.S. 1 in the year 1973. In this case, the united sates supreme court reversed a Texas three - judge District court. In a case instigated in the federal district court for the western District of Texas , where  members of a group called the Edgewood Concerned Parent Association representing  their children  sued several school Districts such as San Antonio,  the judge contented that Education was a fundamental right. The verdict said that Education was a fundamental right and therefore discouraged discrimination on the bases of poverty. The parents had claims that the District of Edgewood was poor with a low tax base as compared to other Districts ( Armor, 1995).

The case advanced through the legal system up to the supreme court but now with the Texas state as the defendant. The case reached the Supreme court in 1972 with a new set of judges being appointed to listen to it. Justice Lewis Powell actually acted as the swing vote in the case (Armor, 1995). The Verdict in part stated that Education was neither explicitly nor implicitly protected in the constitution and that the state of Texas which was the defendant in the case had failed to create a suspect class related to poverty. The court therefore held that Education was not a fundamental right under the U.S. constitution and therefore leaving it upon the states to determine all matters pertaining Education in their areas of jurisdiction.

The supreme court also doesn’t explicitly empower congress to legislate on the subject of Education. This means that most federal education legislation falls under the spending clause of the constitution. This is a clause which empowers congress to tax as well as spend for the general welfare. The constitution however gives stipulations as far as the provision is concerned. It requires  that the provision has to be consistent with other constitutional rights provided by the federal government. These include the fourteenth Amendment’s right to protection under the law and the first Amendments right to the free exercise of, as well as the non establishment of a religion. Through this stipulation, the federal government  ensures a provision free of racial segregation and other forms of discrimination.


 Armor, D. (1995). Forced Justice : School Desegregation and the Law. New York : Oxford University Press. 

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