Any standard, the court said, that is not centered on "student progress would do little to remedy the pervasive and tragic academic stagnation that prompted Congress to act" when it passed the 1975 law that provides federal funds to help states cover the cost of educating students with disabilities.
Federal appeals court judges are happy when the high court clears up such circuit conflicts, she said.
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who was the first to suggest to Gorsuch on Wednesday that the Supreme Court had just rebuked him in the Endrew F. ruling, told Tacha when she discussed the prevailing 10th Circuit standard, she left out the word added to "more than de minimis" by Gorsuch: "merely". Advocates said that the ruling would not only affect decisions in the relatively few special-education disputes that go to court but would also more broadly shift the balance of power between families and school officials, pushing schools to set more ambitious goals tailored more carefully to each student's particular needs.
"Heartbreaking", Gorsuch said before a panel of senators.
"School districts will have the flawless opportunity to do the right thing and create programs that are consistent with the new clarified standard", Mayerson said.
Lower courts, applying the "more than trivial" test, sided with the school district.
If confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is closely divided on many critical issues, Judge Gorsuch would be in a position tip the balance in a direction that would undermine many of our core rights and legal protections. That is the case that led to the 2008 decision in the 10th Circuit written by Gorsuch. Mike Lee, R-Utah, that Gorsuch was meticulous in crafting his opinions and she did not believe he meant to alter the "more than de minimis" standard with his use of the word "merely".
"It is a massive victory for children with disabilities across this country who will really hold the cards when their parents go into the school system and say now it's time to act for my child to have an equal opportunity to achieve the American dream", said Maryland parent Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of the nonprofit RespectAbility.
The case decided Wednesday involves Endrew F., a Colorado boy who was diagnosed with autism at age 2.
Gorsuch's opinion in that decision, Thompson R2-J School District v. Luke P.
The family sued the Thompson school district for reimbursement of the private school tuition, as the IDEA permits when a district fails to provide a free, appropriate education.
Roberts said the law requires an educational program "reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances".
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the school district had not met its duty under the law.