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Judge Smith’s opinion in a Rhode Island education lawsuit is 🔥

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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and my life is better because I discovered Insomnia Cookies. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 26,960 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, after adding 554 new cases since Friday. The most recent overall daily test-positive rate was 2.2 percent, but the first-time positive rate was 5.5 percent. The state announced nine more deaths, bringing the total to 1,139. There were 126 people in the hospital.


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In many ways, US District Judge William E. Smith’s decision Tuesday to dismiss a high-profile lawsuit filed by students arguing that Rhode Island schools failed to provide them a civics education was predictable.

As Smith wrote in his opinion, the suit seeking civics education to be deemed a constitutional right was ambitious. It asked him to “declare rights that have not been recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States, or, with a single exception, any other federal court in recent history.”

But rather than simply dismissing the case and moving on, Smith wrote an opinion that you should take a few minutes to read today, and then e-mail it to a bunch of friends, then post it to Facebook, then rant about it on Twitter, and then, right before bed, read it one more time.

“This case does not represent a wild-eyed effort to expand the reach of substantive due process, but rather a cry for help from a generation of young people who are destined to inherit a country which we — the generation currently in charge — are not stewarding well,” Smith wrote.


Smith, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2002, said the students who filed the lawsuit nearly two years ago recognize that “American democracy is in peril.” He said the lawsuit “highlights a deep flaw in our national education priorities and policies.”

This isn’t just a “nice try” pat on the head for the students.

Smith made it clear that the defendants, which included Governor Gina Raimondo, “have the authority to implement policy and educational priorities, and could, if directed by a federal court, make civics education a priority.” They choose not to.

In a parting shot, Smith made it clear that while he doesn’t believe the courts can make civics education a constitutional right, he’d like to see state leaders (and Congress, perhaps) step up.

“Hopefully, others who have the power to address this need will respond appropriately,” he wrote.Attorneys for the students have already said they intend to appeal the decision.


⚓ My latest: Who would have thought that perennial political candidate Chris Young would have left behind such a valuable website when he died earlier this year?

⚓ One of the most memorable parts of Tuesday’s questioning of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett came from US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

Amanda Milkovits reports that Attorney General Peter Neronha is seeking an advisory opinion from the state Supreme Court’s ethics advisory panel because he said he wants to be able to tell police agencies that they can publicly release videos when police officers use force.


⚓ Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Rhode Island, raising questions about whether Governor Raimondo will restore restrictions on residents.

⚓ In a decision that could cost Rhode Island a congressional seat, the US Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the Trump administration can end census field operations early.


Health: My colleague Dasia Moore reports that Massachusetts has more deaths per capita than nearby states since the summer ended, and no one seems to know why.

Sports: Is it possible that you’ll be able to buy stock in the Red Sox? Kind of. Read this excellent story looking at the deal that could allow the Fenway Sports Group to go public.

Opinion: Instead of forcing students and teachers to replicate their usual routines online, Vicki Abeles argues that we should let them explore more creative paths.

Politics: President Trump finds himself in danger of losing states he won handily in 2016.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

BIRTHDAYS: Rhode Map readers, if you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.


⚓ Governor Gina Raimondo’s weekly coronavirus press conference is at 1 p.m.

⚓ At 10 a.m., the Globe is hosting a webinar for small businesses and nonprofits trying to navigate through the pandemic.

⚓ The task force studying how to reform Rhode Island’s Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights meets virtually at 3 p.m.

⚓The Miriam Hospital Women’s Association is hosting Brown University professor Wendy Schiller for an online discussion on the 2020 election at 7 p.m.

⚓ Do you ❤️ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to dan.mcgowan@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him @danmcgowan.