This Note argues that the recent shift in state court litigation from an equality claim to one of adequacy has compelled many courts to insert themselves in the discussion and creation of educational policy that was previously viewed as unacceptable. This evolution may render courts vulnerable to appellate challenges and criticisms of nonjusticiability and political question doctrine violations regarding institutional competence and judicial prudence. In addition, the demise of the equality argument diminishes the moral strength of the court's normative valuation capacity. Section I examines the history of education finance cases and reviews the three waves of litigation strategies, which evolved from an equality argument to one of adequacy. Section II explores in greater detail the concerns of state court judicial policymaking, including issues of separations of powers, justiciability and the political question doctrine. Section III analyzes the difficulties and benefits of judicial administration of the adequacy standard. Section IV examines the changes in the New York courts' jurisprudence as manifested in the equality case of Board of Education of Levittown v. Nyquist and the current adequacy case of Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. v. New York. Section IV will also ascertain the effect of the standards-based education movement on litigation and jurisprudence. This Note concludes that state courts should cautiously embrace adequacy arguments because they will more likely enmesh the judiciary in the legislative realm raising questions of competence and anti-majoritarian concerns. Furthermore, the courts should not abdicate their role of articulating normative values by precluding equality challenges. Federal regulations that address disparate impact may afford state courts one means of ensuring equal educational opportunities.


Judicial Standards, Education Finance

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Cornel Journal of Law and Public Policy

Publication Information

11 Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy 403 (2002)


COinS Avidan Y. Cover Faculty Bio