Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Plaintiffs Secure First Victory in Nation Challenging Federal Role in Common Core, But Reasoning Is Unclear
The skepticism I expressed in September regarding a lawsuit challenging Missouri's funding of the consortium developing Common Core standards and assessments may have been misplaced, at least, for now. Plaintiffs claimed that the state funding of the consortium amounts to an "illegal interstate compact" that cedes state sovereignty over education to the consortium. They also charged that the U.S. Department of Education's funding of the consortium was not authorized by Congress. As I have noted several times, there are plenty of legal flaws to go around with how the federal government has rolled out teacher and Common Core policy, but an unauthorized funding of a consortium did not appear to be one of them.
Nonetheless, plaintiffs in the case have secured the first victory in the nation implicating the U.S. Department of Education. Prior cases all involved purely state law issues and contests of power between the state executive and legislative branch. This current case, however, is curious in that it claims the U.S. Department of Education's action was unconstitutional, but the complaint does not name the Department as a defendant. In that respect, it seeks to keep the case state based and the feds out of it, while still claiming their unconstitutional action is central to the case.The trial court's injunction in plaintiffs' favor is likewise curious. The court wrote:
Plaintiffs have made a preliminary showing of likelihood of success on the merits on their claim that the Consortium is an unconstitutional interstate compact to which Congress has never consented, in violation of the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution. If Plaintiffs prevail on this claim, Missouri’s membership in the Consortium is unconstitutional.
The actual injunction enjoins Missouri, not Congress, based on Congress's unconstitutional action. Unfortunately, the opinion does not offer its analysis and simply reasons that plaintiffs' arguments, whatever they are, are correct. If I can locate plaintiffs' briefs, I will post a followup.