BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — A judge Wednesday rejected Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's request to block federal officials from penalizing his state if it quits using the Common Core education standards, saying Jindal failed to show any such threat exists.
U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick refused the Republican governor's motion for a preliminary injunction against the U.S Department of Education and suggested Jindal would have difficulty winning his broader lawsuit against the federal agency.
The governor's attorney said Jindal will appeal the ruling.
Jindal sued the education department in August 2014, accusing it of manipulating $4.3 billion in federal grant money and policy waivers to illegally pressure states to adopt the English and math standards and associated testing.
The governor, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, sought to block Democratic President Barack Obama's administration from retaliating if Louisiana exits Common Core.
Dick said Jindal didn't prove the state faces any possible injury if Louisiana decides to drop its use of the multistate standards and testing.
"It fact, the alleged injuries that Jindal anticipates, should the state discontinue its use of the (Common Core), appear to be purely speculative considering similar actions taken by other states that have not suffered the anticipated consequences," Dick wrote in her decision.
She also said the governor didn't prove "there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits" in the lawsuit's broader effort to declare the federal grant and waiver programs illegal and unconstitutional.
In his lawsuit, Jindal claimed the education department's actions forced states to move toward a national education curriculum in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal law.
In her 33-page ruling, Dick rejected those claims, saying Jindal provided "no evidence" his state was made to adopt a particular set of education standards, curriculum, instructional programs or standardized testing.
"The evidence supports the finding that participation in both (the grant and waiver) programs is completely voluntarily and not unconstitutionally coercive," the judge wrote.
Jindal's lawyer Jimmy Faircloth issued a statement indicating the decision will be challenged to a New Orleans-based appeals court.
"We believe the ruling is wrong and we are confident that the Fifth Circuit will agree," Faircloth said. "The district court interprets the statutes to allow the federal government to construct a scheme to avoid clear, constitutionally-based restrictions on federal authority over state sovereignty."
Dick took months to sift through the claims before issuing her decision. A two-day hearing on the injunction request was held in May.
The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade. They have been adopted by more than 40 states to better prepare students for college and careers.
Opponents, including Jindal, say the standards are developmentally inappropriate and part of federal efforts to nationalize education. The Louisiana governor once supported the standards, but changed his position as Common Core became more unpopular in the GOP.
The Obama administration embraced the standards and encouraged states to use them. But it said Louisiana's decision to use Common Core and its aligned testing was voluntary, not coerced by the federal government.
Jindal has failed so far to end Louisiana's use of Common Core, with state education officials and lawmakers rejecting attempts to strip the standards from public school classrooms. State courts have derailed his attempt to stop Common Core-related testing.
Instead, a state education committee is doing a widespread review of the individual standards to determine which ones it might want to keep, reject or tweak — but that review won't be complete until after Jindal, who is term-limited, leaves office in January.