U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore Rules for Education
by Nabeal Twereet
K. Michael Moore is a United States District Judge who serves the Southern District of Florida. He was born to Thomas and Janet Moore in Coral Gables, Florida, and he is one of seven children. Moore attended Florida State University, where he received a B.A. degree. He also earned his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law.
Before Moore was appointed to the U.S. District Court by the 41st President, George Herbert Walker Bush, he worked as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. By the early eighties, the future U.S. District Judge served as an administrative Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Moore also managed the United States Marshals Service when he was employed by the Department of Justice.
On October 4, 1991, President Bush nominated Moore to the U.S. District Court and the United States Senate confirmed Bush's decision on February 6, 1992.
Moore has been featured in the news recently for allowing U.S. born citizens, whose parents entered this country illegally, the right to pay the same tuition at Florida's universities and public colleges as other citizens whose parents are legal residents. The Federal Judge's ruling could give thousands of Floridians access to higher education since they won't be forced to pay high tuition rates just because their parents are from another country.
According to The Miami Herald article, “Federal judge rules state cannot treat some Florida students as non-residents and charge higher tuition,” Moore's conclusion sided with the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Center, who represents students who were born in the United States and Floridians, filed its complaint on October 2011. The judge acknowledged that Florida's policy of categorizing students according to their parents' immigration status infringes on the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
In an ABC News article, “Judge Rules for Students in Immigrant-Tuition Suit,” Moore wrote, “The state regulations deny a benefit and create unique obstacles to attain public post-secondary public education for U.S. citizen children who would otherwise qualify for in-state tuition.”
Fox News Latino article, “Judge Favors Students in Immigrant-Tuition Suit,” discusses the unique obstacle Moore mentioned during his ruling. Florida's U.S. citizens whose parents might have not established legal residency would have to pay $947 per credit hour compared to only $205 per credit, which is the fee students cough up if their parents are born in the United States. That is three times as much as students whose parents resides in the U.S. Education usually opens the door to great job opportunities, but these opportunities would not even materialize if it wasn't for Moore's ruling.
The Southern Poverty Law Center's deputy legal director, Jerri Katzerman, praised the District Judges' decision. According to The Miami Herald, Jerri stated, “Today is a great day for these young people across the state of Florida who simply wanted the opportunity to get an education and, with that, a chance for the American Dream.” The deputy legal director continued to say, “This policy, which was blatantly unconstitutional, will no longer be a roadblock for these young students who may very well be the state's leaders of tomorrow.”
Jerri's sentiments were reiterated with Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho's comments. The Miami Herald quoted Alberto when he stated, “Every year Florida graduates thousands of students, many of whom face an uncertain future due to legal restrictions or insurmountable financial burdens because of their immigration status.” The Superintendent added, “Today's ruling represents a return to reason and the opening of the door of opportunity for deserving students who want nothing more than to give back to the only community and nation that they have ever known.”
ABC News reported that attorneys for the state of Florida contended that categorizing children of illegal immigrants as qualified for in-state tuition would financially hurt universities and public colleges, costing them millions of dollars every year. That was not a reasonable argument made by the state attorneys since they assumed Florida would demand in-state tuition to individuals who applied from out of state. Fox News Latino said the Federal Judge disagreed with the state attorneys. Moore claimed, “This is simply incorrect.” The judge wrote that his decision “would not prevent the state from continuing to distinguish between in-state residents and out-of-state non-residents.”
The state's attorneys did not concur with the District Judge's ruling. The Miami Herald noted that the attorneys bickered: “If Florida were required to extend the benefit of in-state tuition rates to all United States citizens regardless of their state of residency, the annual impact would be approximately $200,000,000 in reduced tuition.”
But Moore held his ground and proclaimed that the attorneys' argument was centered on the federal welfare reform act of 1996. The judge also announced that illegal immigrants help pay for secondary education via sales and other taxes like the parents who were born in the United States.
Although it's not reported how many students will have their tuition fees changed at Florida's universities and public colleges, Moore's judgment gives students whose parent are not legal residents, the opportunity to pursue an affordable education. Students will no longer have to worry about the inflated tuition fees and the Federal Judge's decision will welcome more students who couldn't afford the high tuition cost inside the classroom.
Other states have also ruled on behalf of the students. Four years ago, the Colorado attorney general said students who were born in the United States were qualified for in-state tuition, even if their mom or dad were not legal residents. In a similar case, California has changed their policy and has ruled in support of the students. Moore's judgment aligns with other officials in different states and there could be more courtroom proceedings where U.S. students will fight for lower tuition fees.