Monday, March 27, 2006

Confused (C) For (F) Ever (E)

In all of the hoo hah over the Campaign for Fiscal Equity's lawsuit and the state court decision saying that New York City school kids are being shortchanged, there is no better explanation of the legal issues than is contained in the article in today's NY Sun by Jacob Gershman ("A Court Without Power"). It all comes down to the fact that the court has no power to enforce its ruling.

Under our system of checks and balances it is the legislature that appropriates money and the executive that spends it (Of course when it comes to Indian retailers the governor has decided to take the law into his own hand). This is precisely why Speaker Silver has talked about the governor's "moral" rather than "legal" obligation to follow the court's ruling.

Plaintiff's lawyer Michael Rebell laments that the governor is setting a bad example for the kids by flouting "the rule of law." Others see it diferently and wonder how the violation of the legal separation of powers would enhance respect for the law. All of which reminds us of President Jackson's response to the SC's ruling on the banks: "Well, John Marshall has made his ruling, now let him enforce it."