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March 2018

Phoenix Attorney Andrew Jacob Successfully Challenges the Procedure Used to Implement a 2015 Billion Dollar School Funding Plan

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Phoenix attorney Andrew Jacob garnered headlines in The Arizona Republic, the Tucson Daily Star and the Arizona Capitol Times for successfully challenging the procedure used to implement a 2015 billion dollar school funding plan. The 1912 Enabling Act that provided for Arizona Statehood also established a School Trust Fund for the benefit of Arizona public schools. Under the terms of the Enabling Act, all changes to the formula for making distributions from this fund must be authorized by Congress. But, in 2012 and again in 2015, Arizona increased the rate of such distributions without seeking approval from Congress.

Jacob’s client challenged this procedure as a pro per. Jacob took on representation on a pro bono basis at the request of the court. Last March, Jacob sought an injunction stopping distributions by the 2015 formula unless and until Arizona obtained authorization from Congress. Former United States Solicitor General, Ted Olson, representing the Governor, argued against the injunction.  

On Monday, March 26, 2018 the District Court issued its order (one year after taking the matter under advisement) and fully vindicated the positions taken by Jacob. The court ruled that any Arizona citizen had standing to enforce this aspect of the Enabling Act and called Arizona’s failure to obtain such authorization “a breach of trust.” The court also raised the possibility that Arizona might be ordered to reduce distributions from the Fund as needed to make up approximately $500,000 in excess distributions that were taken from 2012 until March 2018.

The Governor’s Office has now reached out to Jacob to assist in creating a revised procedure to fully fund Arizona’s schools as mandated by the Arizona Constitution and prior Federal Court Rulings.

Andrew S. Jacob