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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Is The Great Cobb County Cop-Out binding in perpetuity?

The answer to that question is: maybe.

The Great Cobb County Cop-Out would cease to be perpetually binding if and when a Congressional bill titled “The Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act”, S 489, becomes law:

The Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act (S. 489) would permit state and local governments that enter into a consent decree in federal court to file a motion seeking to modify or vacate the decree within four years, or upon the expiration of the term of office of the highest elected state or local official who authorized the consent decree, whichever comes sooner (school desegregation consent decrees would be specifically exempted.) . . . .

Because the legislation calls for its retroactive application, S. 489 would apply to existing consent decrees, no matter when they were agreed to.

S 489 picked up 26 co-sponsors (in addition to the sponsor), which is nothing to sneeze at. Details about the bill are here.

Because the plaintiffs in Selman v. Cobb County had already requested a brand-new trial, they would not be in much of a position to complain if they get one if the board of education re-instates the textbook stickers.

S 489 is also discussed here.

S 489 has drawbacks, but there’s got to be some way to prevent nervous Nellie public officials from forever tying the hands of their successors.

The consent agreement says,

(3) This Order is binding on the Cobb County Board of Education and its officers and members in perpetuity, notwithstanding any changes to the Board's membership that may result from future elections, appointments, vacancies, or other changes to the Board or its composition.

(4) This Court reserves jurisdiction to enforce this Order. In the event that Defendants fail to comply with this order, Plaintiffs, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, or Americans United for Separation of Church and State may file a motion with this Court seeking enforcement of the Order. Defendants are deemed to have submitted irrevocably to the jurisdiction and venue of this Court, and to have waived any objection thereto, for any proceeding to enforce this Order.

The last item above, the right to object to any proceeding to enforce the consent agreement, is probably not waivable.

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