Students Matter, the organization that has taken the lead in seeking to undo teacher tenure and hiring and firing laws in California, has added one of the nation’s leading – and liberal – constitutional scholars to its legal team: Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe.
The organization, which was founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch and has the backing of leading venture capitalists, already has considerable legal firepower at its disposal.
The law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher represented Students Matter in its challenge to California’s teacher employment laws in the Vergara v. California lawsuit. Students Matter won the first round in the Los Angeles Superior Court, but the ruling issued by Judge Rolf Treu will not go into effect pending an appeal by teachers unions and possibly the State of California.
The legal team was led by attorneys Ted Boutros and Ted Olson, the former solicitor general of the United States in the administration of former President George W. Bush. With co-counsel David Boies, Olson also led the legal charge against California’s anti-gay marriage initiative that resulted in last year’s historic Supreme Court ruling on the issue.
Tribe will act as a pro bono “advisor” to Students Matter as it expands its challenges to teacher employment laws in other states.
Tribe has long been regarded as a potential Supreme Court justice, but his chances of ever making it onto the court have seemed dim because of near-certain Republican opposition if he were ever nominated. He has been a Harvard professor for decades but has roots in California. He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, then enrolled at Harvard at the age of 16.
“There is no more important function that state and local governments serve than providing the next generation with an education,” Tribe said in a statement issued by Students Matter. “As someone who attended public schools from elementary school through high school, I know first-hand the profound impact that our public school teachers have on a child’s education. My own life was shaped by the guidance of inspiring, dedicated teachers who helped me realize my potential. Every student deserves teachers like that. By working with Students Matter, I plan to do my part to ensure that our education system encourages quality teachers in every classroom, every day.”