8:39 AM, Nov 19, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Obama administration's Justice Department has dropped a lawsuit aiming to stop a school voucher program in the state of Louisiana. A ruling Friday by a United States district court judge revealed that the federal government has "abandoned" its pursuit of an injunction against the Louisiana Scholarship Program, a state-funded voucher program designed to give students in failing public schools the opportunity to attend better performing public or private schools.
"We are pleased that the Obama Administration has given up its attempt to end the Louisiana Scholarship Program with this absurd lawsuit," said Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, in a statement. "It is great the Department of Justice has realized, at least for the time being, it has no authority to end equal opportunity of education for Louisiana children."
But the legal battle over school vouchers in Louisiana isn't over. The Justice Department is still requesting the court allow a federal review process of the program.
Earlier this year the Justice Department had sought the injunction against the program because, its petition argued, moving children out of certain school districts in Louisiana may have been in violation of a standing federal desegregation court order from 1975. According to that existing injunction, the state could not send public money to private schools in those school districts "in ways that further or support discrimination or segregation."
As the Jindal administration began to mount a legal defense to the federal suit, a group of parents of students, mostly minorities, who had benefitted from the voucher program sought to intervene in the case. Justice filed a motion to oppose the parent group's request to have standing.
On Friday, Judge Ivan Lemelle of the U.S. district court of the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled the parents could not intervene in the case because the feds are "no longer seeking injunctive relief at this time." Lemelle explained that in the intervening months since the Justice Department filed suit, it had made clear both in a supplemental filing and in its opposition to the parent group's motion to intervene that it was not seeking in its suit to end the voucher program or take away vouchers from students.
Lemelle continued: "The Court reads these two statements as the United States abandoning its previous request that the Court 'permanently enjoin the State from issuing any future voucher awards to students unless and until it obtains authorization from the federal court overseeing the applicable desegregation case.'"
Lemelle will hold an oral hearing on Friday, November 22, during which Justice will make its case for the federal review process of the voucher program. In his statement on Friday's ruling, Jindal criticized the federal government's efforts.
“The centerpiece of the Department of Justice's 'process' is a requirement that the state may not tell parents, for 45 days, that their child has been awarded a scholarship while the department decides whether to object to the scholarship award. The obvious purpose of this gag order would be to prevent parents from learning that the Department of Justice might try to take their child’s scholarship away if it decides that the child is the wrong race," said Jindal. “The updated Department of Justice request reeks of federal government intrusion that would put a tremendous burden on the state, along with parents and teachers who want to participate in school choice."
Elizabeth Harrington of the Washington Free Beacon recently reported on the students and parents in Louisiana who say they've benefitted from the voucher program:
Coretta Pittman goes well beyond the 40 hours of service required of parents whose children attend the Good Shepherd School in New Orleans. Last year she did 100.
She borrows her mother’s car to take her son Elias, a second grader, to Good Shepherd each morning rather than sending him to a public school across the street. She chooses to work part-time so she can volunteer.
Without a voucher, Pittman would not be able to send Elias to the private Catholic school.
“I love the school,” she said. “I wouldn’t switch him for anything.”
Pittman fears that without the program Elias’s future could be snuffed out, like her nephew. She gets emotional when talking about his death. “Me and my mother raised my nephew from the time he came home from the hospital,” Pittman said. “A year ago, he was killed. He was really smart. I think he could’ve done and been anything that he wanted to.”
5:30 PM, Nov 4, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senator Mary Landrieu, the Democrat from Louisiana, has introduced a bill called the "Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act." The bill recognizes that Americans are losing their individual health plans because they don't conform to the new regulations under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
12:41 PM, Oct 30, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat from Louisiana, tells Politico's Manu Raju that she'd be interested in supporting a proposal to allow Americans who like their current health insurance plan to keep it for next year. Here's the story from Politico:
8:01 AM, Oct 30, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In December 2009, Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu assured Americans that the Obamacare legislation being debated in Congress would not affect those who like their plans. Watch the video of her speech on the floor of the Senate:
“While those individuals who like the coverage they already have will be able to keep their current plan," said Landrieu at the time. "This is a very accurate description of this bill before us."
2:33 PM, Oct 24, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat from North Carolina who is up for reelection in 2014, says she supports delaying the deadline for signing up for health insurance under Obamacare's individual mandate. Hagan, who voted for Obamacare back in 2010, also says the fine for not signing up for health insurance should be waived.
2:24 PM, Oct 23, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
An organization representing Louisiana parents shouldn't be allowed to intervene in a federal lawsuit against the state's school voucher program, the Department of Justice said in a response to a motion requesting legal intervention.
5:32 PM, Oct 17, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Louisana governor Bobby Jindal, the two-term Republican and potential presidential candidate, has announced the formation of a new group called America Next. The organization bills itself as a "conservative policy group" that aims to "focus on winning a war of ideas." Here's an excerpt from a mission statement by Jindal on the new group's website:
9:37 AM, Oct 15, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
New polls of likely voters in three key states in next year's U.S. Senate election show Republicans running just behind incumbent Democrats. Harper Polling, a firm associated with Republicans and working on behalf of conservative super PAC American Crossroads, conducted surveys of likely voters in Alaska, Arkansas, and Louisiana, where those state's Democratic senators face reelection in 2014 (via Politico). In each of those races, most of the potential Republican challengers poll within single digits of the Democrat.
2:57 PM, Sep 18, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Bobby Jindal is outraged over a Department of Justice lawsuit against a Louisiana school voucher program. The suit, which he (repeatedly) calls “cynical, immoral, and hypocritical” and the “worst misuse” of federal desegregation laws, aims to stop a program that allows poor students in failing schools to enter a lottery for a voucher to attend a better school.
10:01 AM, Sep 13, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
High costs and low-quality care have defined the state of Louisiana's system of charity hospitals, established during the Huey Long era to serve the medical needs of low-income citizens. Now, as the Associated Press's Melinda Deslatte reports, Republican governor Bobby Jindal is making the case that his privatization reforms are a successful conservative alternative for providing health care services to those in need:
Elbert Lee Guillory, Cajun noir.Sep 16, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 02 • By MICHAEL WARREN
"Je suis un Cajun noir,” Elbert Lee Guillory, the 69-year-old state senator from Opelousas, Louisiana, tells me proudly. “I am a black Cajun.” To which he might these days add, “Je suis un Républicain noir—I am a black Republican.”
The federal government attacks Louisiana school choice. Sep 9, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 01 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal found out late on Friday, August 23. Attorney General Eric Holder was suing to block the state’s school voucher program, which aims to give low-income kids in terrible schools the opportunity to attend better public schools and even private schools. The Justice Department claims the two-year-old program could interfere with federal desegregation orders in several Louisiana parishes, holdovers from the Civil Rights era.
11:02 AM, Aug 27, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, is making the case that some "cyber" jobs need to be moved away from the Washington, D.C. area -- and to Louisiana, where those people might be physically safer.
“Those jobs can’t all be based inside Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va.,” she explained to a local paper. "Some of those jobs need to be located outside the blast zone."
Landrieu did not explain what blasts she expects to hit the Washington, D.C. area, or when those blasts might hit.
7:01 AM, Aug 23, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Baton Rouge, La.
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who also chairs the Republican Governors Association, says Republicans should be doing more to help Ken Cuccinelli in his race for the governorship in Virginia.