Gretchen Logue and Anne Gassel of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core have joined Fred N. Sauer in filing a taxpayer lawsuit against Governor Nixon, Commissioner Nicastro, and other state officials. The lawsuit challenges Missouri’s payment of taxpayer money to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a consortium of states that is implementing tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards (“Common Core”).
Logue and Gassel’s lawsuit alleges that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an unconstitutional interstate compact that was not approved by Congress, in violation of the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 3, Clause 10. The suit also alleges that Governor Nixon and Commissioner Nicastro’s course of conduct in committing Missouri to Common Core was in violation of numerous federal and state statutes.
By passing HB 1490 by an overwhelming majority, the Missouri state legislature effectively repudiated Common Core, requiring it to be replaced by 2016. But Missouri has not withdrawn from the consortium of states implementing Common Core aligned tests. According to public records, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to send millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to the Smarter Balanced consortium in 2015, which will be used to support the implementation of Common Core in numerous other states. These payments are illegal under the federal constitution, federal statutes, and Missouri state law.
Governor Nixon and Commissioner Nicastro engaged in a long course of conduct, in cooperation with the federal Department of Education, to commit Missouri’s public schools to Common Core without legislative approval.
Should this lawsuit succeed, citizens and taxpayers across the country could have solid footing to sue over any number of federal education—and other—programs that take funds from taxpayers in one state and funnel them to taxpayers in other states, and if taxpayers in one state don’t go along they have to impose additional taxes to make up what they forfeited by sending funds to Washington for programs they didn’t want.
Back in 2012 when the Obama administration was in court defending the Medicaid expansion, Justice Alito asked a critical question relating to such a scheme:
Would that be—would that reach the point —would that be the point where financial inducement turns into coercion?
We’ll have to stay tuned to events as they unfold in Missouri to find out.