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GARY B., JESSIE K., CRISTOPHER R., ISAIAS R., ESMERALDA V., PAUL M., and JAIME R., minors,
Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
GRETCHEN WHITMER, et al.,
Defendants-Appellees.
   Nos. 18-1855/1871
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit.
No. 2:16-cv-13292—Stephen J. Murphy, III, District Judge.
Argued: October 24, 2019
Decided and Filed: April 23, 2020
Before: CLAY, STRANCH, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.


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OPINION
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CLAY, Circuit Judge. Plaintiffs in this appeal are students at several of Detroit’s worstperforming public schools. They credit this substandard performance to poor conditions within their classrooms, including missing or unqualified teachers, physically dangerous facilities, and inadequate books and materials. Taken together, Plaintiffs say these conditions deprive them of a basic minimum education, meaning one that provides a chance at foundational literacy.

In 2016, Plaintiffs sued several Michigan state officials, who they say are responsible for these abysmal conditions in their schools. Plaintiffs allege that state actors are responsible, as opposed to local entities, based on the state’s general supervision of all public education, and also on the state’s specific interventions in Detroit’s public schools. The state argues that it recently returned control to local officials, and so it is now the wrong party to sue.

Plaintiffs’ underlying claims, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, are all based on the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs argue that while other Michigan students receive an adequate education, the students in Plaintiffs’ schools do not, amounting to a violation of their right to equal protection of the laws. They also argue that the schools they are forced to attend are schools in name only, and so the state cannot justify the restriction on their liberty imposed by compulsory attendance. And in their most significant claim, Plaintiffs ask this Court to recognize a fundamental right to a basic minimum education, an issue the Supreme Court has repeatedly discussed but never decided.

While the district court found that Defendants were in fact the proper parties to sue, it dismissed Plaintiffs’ complaint on the merits. First, it found that Plaintiffs had not alleged a proper comparator for their equal protection claim, nor had they highlighted any state policy or action that was not supported by a rational basis. Second, it found that Plaintiffs had not sufficiently pleaded their compulsory attendance theory, and so the court only viewed their due process claim as seeking an affirmative fundamental right. Third, the court held that a basic minimum education is not a fundamental right, and so Plaintiffs’ due process claim was dismissed. Plaintiffs then appealed.

Though Plaintiffs failed to adequately plead their equal protection and compulsory attendance claims, the same cannot be said for their central theory: that they have been denied a basic minimum education, and thus have been deprived of access to literacy. A review of the Supreme Court’s education cases, and an application of their principles to our substantive due process framework, demonstrates that we should recognize a basic minimum education to be a fundamental right. Furthermore, under this circuit’s precedents, Defendants are proper parties to sue in this case. Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part the district court’s order, and remand this case for further proceedings.



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ROBERT WINBURN,
Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
NOAH NAGY, Warden,
Respondent-Appellee.
   Nos. 19-2398/2399
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
19-2398: No. 5:19-cv-12226—Judith E. Levy, District Judge;
19-2399: No. 3:18-cv-13842—Robert H. Cleland, District Judge.
Decided and Filed: April 23, 2020
Before: NORRIS, SUTTON, and BUSH, Circuit Judges.


_________________________
ORDER
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SUTTON, Circuit Judge. Robert Winburn, a Michigan prisoner, awaits his second trial on charges of armed robbery, home invasion, and conspiracy to commit home invasion. He filed two habeas petitions under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. One seeks to halt his trial. The other seeks to undo a procedural ruling by the Michigan trial judge. The judges denied both petitions and did not issue certificates of appealability. Winburn filed a notice of appeal with respect to one petition and sought a certificate of appealability for the other. State pretrial detainees proceeding under § 2241, we conclude, may not appeal without certificates of appealability, and we ultimately grant him a certificate on one claim and deny his request for the other.