Wyoming Court Temporarily Halts Appointment of State Superintendent
On Wednesday, Chief Judge Scott Skavdahl of the District Court of Wyoming issued a ruling which halts the selection of a new State Superintendent of Public Instruction until Jan. 27.
On Jan. 16, former state superintendent Jillian Balow resigned from her position in order to become a state superintendent in Virginia at the request of the newly elected governor Glenn Youngkin.
The process for selecting a new superintendent involves the Republican State Central Committee, because Balow was a Republican, submitting a list of three candidates to Governor Mark Gordon, who has until Jan. 27 to select a candidate from the list.
The contention lies in a court case involving several Democrat and Republican voters, as well as several who sit on the Republican State Central Committee, who believe the process for selecting the three candidates violated the Wyoming and U.S. constitutions stipulation for "one man one vote."
Patrick Crank, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the people he represented thought that each county should have been given votes equal to their population, and not a flat amount.
Crank said his clients felt strongly enough about the issue to file a lawsuit to make sure there is a proportional representation.
"I think people have thought about it over the years and have decided whatever process is used to select the replacement of the state-wide elected official, particularly one as important as the Superintendent of Public Instruction, should fully comply with the U.S. and Wyoming constitution," Crank said. "So they felt strongly enough about it that they approached me and we brought a challenge in federal district court."
Crank said he doesn't like to speculate about how cases will go so isn't sure which way the court will rule.
In one of the exhibits provided to the court, Tom Lubnau, Campbell County State Committeeman, sent a letter on Jan. 20 to Frank Eathorne, Chairman of Republican Central Committee, and Brian Shuck, State Republican Legal Counsel, with his contention that the committee was violating the constitution by not have proportional representation.
Previously, the Republican State Central Committee had followed the same process for nominating John Barrasso to fill the seat of Senator Craig Thomas, who passed away in 2007 and nominating Edward Buchanan to replace former Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray resigned in 2018.
Crank said he believes those nominations were unconstitutional at the time, but that no one has challenged the process for replacing state-wide officials until now.