Vital Policy – Tennessee Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in School Voucher (ESA) Case

When the Tennessee legislature enacted a school voucher pilot program in 2019, a lawsuit was immediately filed by Shelby County, the Nashville Metropolitan Government of Davidson County, and Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education asking the Chancery Court of Davidson County to declare ESAs unconstitutional, essentially an effort to stop the voucher program.

The trial court agreed with the plaintiffs Davidson and Shelby Counties, declaring school vouchers (ESAs) unconstitutional. The state of Tennessee, parents eligible to be awarded ESAs, and other intervenor-defendants promptly appealed the decision to the Tennessee Court of Appeals which affirmed the Chancery Court Decision that the voucher (ESAs) program as enacted is unconstitutional under the “home rule” provision of the Tennessee Constitution. Background and documents on the case can be found at the link provided here.

Defendant state of Tennessee and others filed an appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court, asking that ESAs be deemed constitutional. Permission to hear the case was granted by the Tennessee Supreme Court on February 4, 2021. After briefs were filed with the court, oral arguments were scheduled.

The following attorneys represented defendants in the oral argument in front of the Tennessee Supreme Court on June 3, 2021. Andrée Sophia Blumstein Solicitor General, Tennessee Attorney General’s Office argued on behalf of the state of Tennessee. Brian K. Kelsey represented the LIBERTY JUSTICE CENTER as Counsel for Intervenor-Defendants Greater Praise Christian Academy, Seasonal Enlightenment Academy Independent School, Ciera Calhoun, Alexandria Medlin, and David Wilson, Sr. Arif Panju represented intervenor-defendants, Tennessee parents Natu Bah and Builguissa Diallo, for the INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE.

Attorney Robert E. Cooper argued for Plaintiffs, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and the Shelby County Government.

For case analysis by the Institute for Justice: Tennessee School Choice – Institute for Justice (

A YouTube link to the video of the oral argument before the Tennessee Supreme Court is provided below. A decision by the court is pending.

Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson Co. Et Al. v. Tennessee Department of Education Et – YouTube

Source: David Seal is a retired Jefferson County educator, as well as a recognized artist and local businessman. He has also served Jefferson County as a County Commissioner and is a lobbyist for the people on issues such as eminent domain, property rights, education, and broadband accessibility on the state level.