In the continuing argument over what should or shouldn’t be the responsibility of the government–and what government, whether local or state or national, should be responsible for it–there is, I think (or, at least, I hope) one thing most of those engaged in this argument can agree upon: that as much as possible, these are decisions to be made actual voters and/or their representatives, not by various bureacratic and/or judicial elites. Americans, as a whole, tend to be pretty good at sniffing out bureaucracies which expand their power (a good habit, since they do it all the time), but many of us, unfortunately, have become much less suspicious of courts doing the same thing. Indeed, for a very long time now, turning to the judiciary to get some policy complaint of yours turned into a “right,” then resolved by constitutional edict one way or another, has been something of an American tradition. And unfortunately, it looks like a lot of Kansas school districts are getting ready to continue it.
Well, I don’t like it, and say why here. Feel free to read the whole thing, but here’s my basic conclusion:
[A]lmost everything having to do education funding, like so many other public policy issues, has both good and bad arguments behind, requiring compromising and continual tweaking. To keep such tweaking in the hands of legislators–and thereby, ultimately, in the hands of voters–is the proper way to run a representative democracy. Insuring that issues pertaining to fundamental rights are resolved through definitive, even defiant, judicial interventions is one, occasionally necessary thing. But figuring out yearly education budgets? Just not the same thing at all.
Localism can be embraced by different people for different reasons; for me and my house, it’s about democracy. Judicial interventions into the legislative process historically have been, and probably sometimes always will be, necessary supplements to the democratic process. They shouldn’t be replacements of it.