Win or lose, and former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s favored lawyers lost a lot, it was never good government for the late administration to gin up lawsuits over policy issues.
Maybe it was good for news releases, given that Jindal was playing to national political audiences, but it’s not good business for the state, and Jindal’s lawyers cost a lot, win or lose.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is taking a better approach.
In a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, Jindal’s former aide Jimmy Faircloth sued on behalf of the state, alleging that Common Core academic standards were a plot against local control of public education.
The governor was trying to demonstrate his ultra-conservative bona fides to the GOP right wing. The case appeared not to have helped Jindal on that front, as his presidential campaign foundered and a judge rejected the lawsuit.
Edwards directed the state Thursday to drop appeal of the Jindal lawsuit. While Edwards, in the Legislature, was skeptical of Common Core, he’s right to note today that the legislative process — at both the state and federal levels — has resulted in compromises over the way that the state will develop new academic standards for public-school classrooms.
“It does not benefit students to continue to use time and resources to pursue litigation that no longer has any bearing on classrooms in Louisiana,” Edwards said.
Not only is that a good call but it’s one that will save the state some money. Edwards ordered the termination of a $475,000 state contract to handle the legal challenge held by the law firm of Alexandria attorney Jimmy Faircloth, the former Jindal aide who has many times been picked by Jindal to argue the state’s interests in court.
The original Jindal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, amid a slew of executive orders and news releases, was a circus act more than a reasoned critique of either academics or government.
Jindal claimed the U.S. Department of Education’s actions forced states to move toward a national education curriculum in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal law. The Obama administration responded that while it encouraged states to use the standards, Louisiana’s decision to adopt Common Core was voluntary — as it was, and as the governor was perfectly aware during the days he supported Common Core standards.
His lawsuit arose not out of federal coercion but of political coercion, in the sense that Jindal felt he had to come out against Common Core for political reasons.
U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, of New Orleans, rejected Jindal’s allegations against the Obama administration in September, saying Jindal didn’t prove Louisiana was improperly coerced.
The litigation was expensive for the taxpayer and lucrative for Faircloth.
The Common Core debate will be settled this year through the legislative process, at the Legislature and before the state board of education. By ending the lawsuit, Edwards ensures the taxpayers won’t be paying billable hours for a politically connected lawyer to pursue the anti-government fantasies of the previous state administration.