The N.C. Supreme Court has agreed to extend oral arguments Aug. 31 in the long-running Leandro school funding lawsuit. A court order issued Monday granted the unanimous request from all parties in the contested case.
Oral arguments at the state’s highest court normally last 60 minutes. For Leandro, arguments will last 90 minutes.
A joint application filed Thursday asked the court for the extended argument time. The application also spelled out a three-way split of the 90-minute argument session.
State legislative leaders and the state controller will share 30 minutes of argument time. N.C. Justice Department lawyers representing the state and State Board of Education will share a second 30-minute argument. The Leandro case’s original plaintiffs and a separate set of intervening plaintiffs will share 30 minutes.
“[T]his case involves the review of numerous issues and petitions from multiple appellants and appellees with adverse interests and differing positions,” according to the application. “It also involves complex constitutional questions that are of paramount public importance — namely, the manner in which the State fulfills its constitutional obligation to provide children with the opportunity to receive a sound basic education in a public school. Granting the requested extension and allocating time among the parties as they have agreed will facilitate the efficient, orderly, and logical presentation of issues to the Court.”
“The Parties believe this arrangement, including the extension of time requested, … will facilitate the efficient, orderly, and logical presentation of issues to the Court, while at the same time avoiding unnecessary duplication.”
The Leandro case, officially known as Hoke County Board of Education v. State, dates back to 1994. It already has produced major state Supreme Court rulings in 1997 and 2004.
Justices will decide in the latest dispute whether a trial judge could order the state to spend an additional $785 million on items linked to a court-sanctioned Leandro plan. A San Francisco-based education consultant put together the multiyear, multibillion-dollar comprehensive remedial plan. It was part of the Leandro trial court proceedings.
The state’s highest court also will decide whether a judge can bypass the General Assembly and order other state officials to transfer the $785 million out of the state treasury.