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20 Santa Clara L. Rev. 75 (1980)
Rodriguez Revisited: Federalism, Meaningful Access, and the Right to Adequate Education

handle is hein.journals/saclr20 and id is 103 raw text is: RODRIGUEZ REVISITED: FEDERALISM,
Penelope A. Preovolos*
San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez'
was widely viewed as a death blow to reform efforts in educa-
tion, at least on the federal level. Certainly, it would be a
mistake to pretend that Rodriguez was deeply sensitive to the
needs of the poor in public education. Nevertheless, the thesis
of this article is that it would be equally unfortunate to treat
Rodriguez as a command from the High Court that education
reformers abandon all hope.
The unheld holding of Rodriguez was that all Americans
have a right to an adequate education;2 the Rodriguez plain-
tiffs, the Court asserted, simply never denied that they were
being adequately educated.3 The existence of a right to a mini-
mum level of education is quite consistent with certain of the
Court's decisions in other fields, which will be styled, for want
of a more elegant appellation, the access cases. These deci-
sions, in the areas of voting, access to the courts, and access to
information and channels of communication, all share one or
more characteristics with education: they implicate issues of
group and individual wealth; they are in some way related to
first amendment concerns, or concerns about access to the pol-
itical system; they occupy a special place in, and are in some
way a key to, the federal system; and they are characterized by
extraordinary levels of state involvement.
Rodriguez was a federalism decision-a decision about the
proper roles of the federal government and the states, the
courts and the legislatures-and not a decision about the exist-
ence or non-existence of a right to education. Therefore, if it
© 1979 by Penelope A. Preovolos
* A.B. University of California, Berkeley, 1976; J.D. Harvard Law School 1979.
Clerk to the Honorable Charles M. Merrill, United States Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit, 1979-80.
1. 411 U.S. 1 (1973).
2. See text accompanying notes 6-26 infra.
3.  411 U.S. at 24.

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