Utah Constitution Public Education
The Utah Constitution is not one of grant, but one of limitation. "'The state having thus committed its whole lawmaking power to the legislature, excepting such as is expressly or impliedly withheld by the state or federal constitution, it has plenary power for all purposes of civil government.'" Univ. of Utah v. Bd. of Examiners, 4 Utah 2d 408, 426, 295 P.2d 348, 361 (1956) (quoting Kimball v. Grantsville, 19 Utah 368, 383, 57 P. 1, 4-5 (1899));
see also Spence v. Utah State Agric. Coll., 119 Utah 104, 112, 225 P.2d 18, 23 (1950); 16 C.J.S. Constitutional Law 58, at 150 (1984) ("As a general rule, the legislature possesses and may exercise all legislative power, or power to enact statutes, of the state or people of the state, subject only to the limitations or prohibitions imposed by the state constitution.").
Therefore, if the legislature is to be "restricted in educational as well as all other matters, it is imperative that the Legislature be restricted expressly or by necessary implication by the Constitution itself." Bd. of Exam'rs, 4 Utah 2d 408 at 426, 295 P.2d at 360; see also Evans & Sutherland Computer Corp. v. Utah State Tax Comm'n, 953 P.2d 435, 442 (Utah 1997);
Wadsworth v. Santaquin, 83 Utah 321, 336, 28 P.2d 161, 167 (1933); State v. Lewis, 26 Utah 120, 123, 72 P. 388, 389 (1903); 16 C.J.S. Constitutional Law, supra, 58, at 150-51.
As a result, the Act at issue must be deemed constitutional unless an examination of the Utah Constitution reveals limitations upon the legislature with respect thereto.
The Utah Constitution provides in relevant part:
The Legislature shall make laws for the establishment and maintenance of a system of public schools, which shall be open to all the children of the State and be free from sectarian control.
Utah Const. art. III, ord. 4. Accordingly, article X, which provides for Utah's system of education, states:
The Legislature shall provide for the establishment and maintenance of the state's education systems including: (a) a public education system, which shall be open to all children of the state; and (b) a higher education system. Both systems shall be free from sectarian control.
Id. art. X, 1. In addition,
The public education system shall include all public elementary and secondary schools and such other schools and programs as the Legislature may designate.
The higher education system shall include all public universities and colleges and such other institutions and programs as the Legislature may designate.
Public elementary and secondary schools shall be free, except the Legislature may authorize the imposition of fees in the secondary schools.
Id. 2 (emphasis added).
In considering the meaning of a constitutional provision, the analysis begins with the plain language of the provision. See In re Worthen, 926 P.2d 853, 866 (Utah 1996).
We need not look beyond the plain language unless we find some ambiguity in it. See id.