Gov. Bobby Jindal's lawsuit against the Obama Administration over Common Core is sure to excite the GOP's red meat crowd, but at the end of the day few believe it will change anything other than the governor's network TV schedule.
In other words, the lawsuit already has succeeded, regardless of what happens in court.
As if to drive home the point that the suit is purely political and utterly without legal merit, Jindal hired his former executive counsel, Jimmy Faircloth, to lawyer the case — at $225 an hour, billed to Louisiana taxpayers. Faircloth has a perfect record on behalf of Team Jindal in major cases; it is untarnished by victory.
Two weeks ago, Faircloth lost another round in state court on behalf of Jindal, who claims that state Education Superintendent John White and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) illegally procured Common Core testing services. In that case, a Baton Rouge judge found that Faircloth failed to produce a shred of evidence in support of the governor's contention.
Blogger and LSU professor Bob Mann, whose columns appear in The Times-Picayune, nailed Jindal for filing a "politically motivated, frivolous lawsuit," which Mann dubbed a "thinly veiled campaign document." Such comments by Mann, an unabashed liberal and consistent Jindal critic, are not surprising, but when they sync with observations by conservative think tanks, it's worth noting.
"I don't think this lawsuit has a lot of merit," Michael Brickman, national policy director for the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, said in The T-P. The newspaper also quoted Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom, who said, kindheartedly, "I do think it will be kind of an uphill battle."
Truth is, if Jindal were sincere about wanting to end Common Core, he would have backed legislative efforts to repeal it earlier this year. Instead, he did virtually nothing. Why? Because deep down, Jindal wants — needs — to keep Common Core alive as a campaign issue. I don't know who should be angrier with him — supporters or opponents of Common Core.
Proof of what I'm saying is in the lawsuit, which strings together all the shrill arguments that Common Core opponents have been spewing for the past year and gussies them up in the same legal language — states' rights — used by Southern opponents of federal civil rights laws two generations ago.
"[T]hrough regulatory and rule making authority, Defendants have constructed a scheme that effectively forces States down a path toward a national curriculum by requiring, as a condition of funding under the President's Race to the Top programs, that States join 'consortia of states' and agree to adopt a common set of content standards and to implement the assessment protocols and policies created by that consortium, all under the direction of the United States Department of Education," Jindal's lawsuit alleges. "It is impossible to square the executive actions at issue with settled Congressional authority or the Tenth Amendment."
I have to give Faircloth credit for this much: He managed to weave every hot-button cliche and battle cry against Common Core into a single sentence. The fact that it's legally obtuse is irrelevant. Jindal just wants to burnish his right-wing bona fides.
Of course, at some point even the adoring national media will get around to exposing Jindal's flagrant flip-flop on Common Core. They might even take note of his blatant hypocrisy on so many other important issues — from ethics reform to transparency to budgetary discipline and more.
It's not as if one has to dig deep to find evidence of Jindal's opportunistic about-faces. In 2009, as Mann noted, Jindal gushed over Louisiana's voluntary application for federal funding under President Barack Obama's Race to the Top program. Jindal also signed the very documents that brought Common Core to Louisiana, and his administration approved the BESE procurement contracts that he now claims are illegal.
I've noted before that Jindal's naked cynicism and hypocrisy know no bounds, and polls consistently show that Louisiana voters see through him. It will be interesting to see how long it takes the rest of America to catch wise.