Love Or Hate Common Core, Lawsuit Challenging It Is No Sham

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Today the Fargo Forum, in its typically intemperate and hyperbolic fashion, slams a lawsuit filed by Common Core opponents challenging the legality of North Dakota’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Consortium.

The Forum bellyaches about the involvement of the Thomas More Law Center. “The suit features a not-too-clever facade of local origination because plaintiffs include a state legislator and Bismarck activist/publisher,” thunders the editorial. “The real push behind the lawsuit – that is, the money – comes from the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, which is behind similar actions in other states.”

Of course, the Forum never applies this logic to, say, legal challenges to pro-life laws in this state filed by national left-wing organizations. But then, nobody has ever accused the Forum editorial board of being possessed of intellectual consistency.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]…nobody has ever accused the Forum editorial board of being possessed of intellectual consistency. Or, you know, honesty.[/mks_pullquote]

Or, you know, honesty. The Forum, to my knowledge, still hasn’t corrected the record after their factually-challenged assault on Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) over preschool legislation. Or apologized for misleading the public about the involvement of one of their editorial board members in fundraising for one of the Fargo City Commission candidates.

But whatever. Integrity isn’t their thing, I guess.

“The lawsuit is an anti-government charade that has little to do with providing a world-class education for North Dakota K-12 students,” the Forum claims, but nowhere in the editorial is the central argument of the lawsuit addressed.

The complaint, which you can read below, claims that the interstate compact formed around the Smarter Balanced Consortium is illegal because it was not ratified by Congress. And, indeed, it does seem as though the Constitution requires such a thing.

Article I, Section 10, clause 3 of the Constitution states (emphasis mine): “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”

Call me crazy, but I tend to think that when the Constitution refers to “any agreement” they mean any agreement. What justification do states like North Dakota have for setting that requirement aside? The state will need to answer that in responding to this lawsuit, or they’ll see the Smarter Balance compact struck down.

The Forum also doesn’t mention that a similar lawsuit filed in Missouri has, at least so far, been successful. The matter is being appealed, but a judge has declared Missouri’s involvement in Smarter Balanced to be unconstitutional and the Legislature there has, in response, pulled the state’s funding from the consortium.

I get that the folks at the Forum love them some Common Core, but whatever your stance on the policy shouldn’t we be concerned about whether or not what the states are doing with Smarter Balance is, you know, constitutional? And should we be so dismissive of a legal argument that has gotten traction in the courts elsewhere?

More thoughtful and informed observers on both sides of this issue certainly feel that way, but you can’t count the folks at the Forum among them.