The legislature has racked up contempt fines of $39.1 million as of Wednesday. But education advocates told the court that hasn't been effective.
Stephanie McCleary and her son Carter won their case at the Supreme Court almost four years ago, in 2012.
“It sounds like more of the same. There is a plan to plan or they don't really have anything to give us to be hopeful right now,” she said.
Two years ago, justices held the legislature in contempt in for failing to have a plan in place to fully fund education. Any plan will likely cost upwards of $4 billion, and a vote won't come until next year.
So the superintendent of public instruction says it's time for the court to take drastic action, to shut down the schools if the legislature doesn’t complete the work of fully funding them next year.
“As an option, hell yeah, yeah,” explained superintendent Randy Dorn.
The plaintiffs' lawyer pressed the court to either eliminate tax loopholes or declare the school budget unlawful.
“Declare the school statutes unconstitutional, because they are constitutionally funded right,” said Thomas Ahearne.
“If we're going to have a successful budget plan, we need to have one that is accepted by the public and that is sustainable over time. And that is not something that necessarily occurs overnight,” responded Deputy Solicitor General Alan Copsey.
A group called Keep Our Schools Open gathered children outside the court.
They planted a small sign for each of the 295 school districts in Washington State, and they criticized the justices.
“What they are doing is appropriating authority the constitution never gave them,” said Ellensburg Rep. Matt Manweller, a professor of constitutional law.
Asked if he and other lawmakers are trying to shift blame onto the Supreme Court, he responded, “I absolutely disagree with that.”
Cox Media Group