By a similar 4-3 vote, with the same three justices dissenting ( Chin, Lui and Cuellar), the California Supreme Court also decided yesterday not to hear the appeal of the California Court of Appeal’s denial of relief to the plaintiffs in Vergara v. State of California. That case had gone to trial. The trial judge had ruled that the state’s tenure, teacher dismissal and seniority-order layoff statutes are unconstitutional under the state’s equal protection clause. The intermediate appeals court had reversed, holding that the plaintiffs failed to show that the challenged statutes inevitably cause a certain group of students to receive an education inferior to the education received by other students, since ineffective teachers may be assigned to particular classrooms for a variety of reasons such as teacher preference and administrative decisions. That ruling is now final.
Justices Liu and Cuellar again wrote dissenting opinions. They both indicated that they would have sided with the plaintiffs and they were both especially critical of the Court of Appeal’s holding that plaintiffs asserting an equal protection claim involving a fundamental right needed to constitute an identifiable group for reasons other than the fact that they were all victims of the statutory scheme.