Iowa Supreme Court Rejects Historical Challenge to Teacher’s Certification
Iowa continues to cling stubbornly to its dubious requirement that all parents must be certified teachers in order to home school their own children. On November 16, 1990, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected HSLDA's latest challenge to the state's teacher certification law.
This challenge was predicated upon a clear violation of Iowa's state constitution which prohibits the legislature from enacting laws that cover more than one subject and also requires that every subject in a bill be mentioned in the title. The requirement that all home school and private school teachers obtain a state teaching certificate was hidden in a 1953 bill which reorganized the bureaucracy of the state department of education. This 1953 enactment clearly violated both the single subject rule and the title requirement of the Iowa constitution, article III §29.
While our challenge was pending in the Iowa Supreme Court, that court decided a criminal case involving a drug dealer who also raised a challenge to a different law based on article III §29 of the Iowa constitution. In that case the court held that if a statute had been codified, it was then "too late" to bring a constitutional challenge using article III §29.
A law is codified when a bill passed by the legislature is published in the official state code. There is a lapse of several weeks between the passage of the bill and the codification of the law.
The effect of this ruling is that all article III §29 challenges must be raised during the short period between the passage of a bill and its codification. The practical effect of the ruling is that no law will ever likely be subject to a constitutional challenge under this provision again. It is virtually impossible for any person to be affected by a law prior to its codification; thus, no one would have any reason to bring such a challenge before it is too late to do so.
HSLDA filed an additional brief at the request of the Supreme Court to argue that the ruling in the drug case was erroneous. We pointed out that the Iowa Supreme Court was reversing numerous prior decisions which had not imposed any such time limit. One successful challenge had been brought more than twenty-five years after the enactment and codification of the law.
We also demonstrated that Iowa was clearly violating the ruling principle of law followed in every other state. Virtually all states have a single subject rule in the state constitution. Two different sets of rules have emerged based upon the method by which the state has chosen to publish the official state code.
In states where a bureaucratic agency compiles the official code (compilation states), there is no time limit on bringing single subject challenges. In other states the legislature votes on every law twice. First a law is passed as a single bill in the normal process. Then all laws are published in a single official code form and the legislature votes a second time to officially pass the code of laws. In such states the rule is that single subject challenges must be brought prior to codification.
The reason for the distinction between the states is that when the legislature passes the law on the second round, it is presumed that each member knew the content of the law and any provisions that were previously hidden from view are now out in the open and fully agreed to by the legislature.
Iowa is a compilation state. Since 1953, the Iowa legislature has never re-enacted the teacher's certification rule in any codification vote or in any other way. Thus, this ruling openly defies the clear rule of law followed in every other state of the union. Even after reading the brief Mike Farris filed, which pointed out the error of the ruling in the drug case and demonstrated that Iowa was a compilation state, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a one-paragraph ruling rejecting our case.
Iowa continues to be a stronghold for irrational restriction of home schooling to those families where the teaching parent is not a certified teacher.