Missouri Judge Places Restraining Order on Smarter Balanced Payments

Missouri Education Watchdog reports that a Missouri Circuit Court judge has temporarily blocked payments from the state to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia.

Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green on November 25 that the lawsuit filed by plaintiffs Fred N. Sauer, Anne Gassel, and Gretchen Logue against Missouri Governor Jay Nixon had a chance of success.  The plaintiffs, suing on behalf of Missouri taxpayers, said that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an unconstitutional interstate compact that Congress never authorized which they say is in violation of the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Smarter Balanced is one of two (the other being PARCC) interstate consortia that were drafting assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards.  It was largely funded through the U.S. Department of Education through stimulus money.

Judge Green found that “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.”

Green also found that the Plaintiffs showed that they would be irreparably harmed if the State were to disburse membership fees to an unconstitutional entity.  His order temporarily blocks the state of Missouri from paying over $1 million in membership fees to the consortium pursuant to a recent invoice.

The Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution states that “No State shall, without the consent of Congress … enter into any Agreement or Compact with any other State.”  In their lawsuit, Sauer, Gassel, and Logue contend that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is just the sort of interstate agreement that must be authorized by the U.S. Congress under this Clause.  The lawsuit contends that the consortium threatens the authority of the U.S. Congress because the federal Department of Education’s action in creating the consortium contravene Congressional prohibitions on the creation of a national curriculum.  The lawsuit also contends that the consortium threatens the freedom and authority of non-member states by attempting to create a de facto education “cartel” aligned with Common Core.

You can see a copy of the temporary restraining order here.  To read more about the legal arguments against the Common Core State Standards in general, and these assessment consortia specifically check out a white paper American Principles Project co-sponsored with Pioneer Institute, Pacific Research Institute and The Federalist Society entitled The Road to a National Curriculum written by Kent Talbert and Robert Eitel.

Cross-posted from American Principle Project’s blog.