HMMM. This might be interesting. Maybe you wondered about this, as did I.

As you know, President Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.

The nomination fight begins. But this post is not about that.

Meanwhile, back at the special education desk, we have an important case before the Supremes right now—Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District.  Oral arguments were heard before eight Justices in early January. The question they will (presumably) resolve is:  What level of benefit does a school needs to provide to a student with disabilities in order to meet the FAPE (free appropriate public education) standard in the law?  Or, in legal parlance, will the 1982 Rowley decision be affected, changed, amended, overruled, remain the same?

Without getting into the weeds about Endrew F., here’s the geography quandary.  Did this puzzle you also?

First the facts.

Judge Gorsuch is currently on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, in Denver, Colorado.  The three-judge panel decision by that Court in Endrew F  was appealed to the Supreme Court and currently before it. Judge Gorsuch was not part of the three-judge panel that heard the case at the 10th Circuit.

Now some questions.

What will the Supremes do?  Will this nomination have an effect on current cases before the Court, such as Endrew F. Will the Supreme Court continue toward a decision with the eight Justices who heard oral argument in early January?  Will the case be withdrawn?  Will the Supreme Court rehear the case so a 9th Justice (Gorsuch or another) can hear it and be part of a decision?  What will happen?

Stay tuned.  Don’t we live in interesting times?


About Miriam

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA—an expert in public education, focused on special education law— is a lawyer, author, speaker, consultant, and reformer. For more than 35 years, Miriam worked with educators, parents, policy makers, and citizens to translate complex legalese into plain English and focus on good practices for children. Now, she focuses her passion on reforming special education, with her new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. Presentations include those at the AASA Conference, Orange County (CA), Boston College (MA), CADRE (OR), and the Fordham Institute (DC). Her writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Education Next, Hoover Digest, The University of Chicago Law Review on line,, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

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