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Wyoming Supreme Court Declares SF 104 Unconstitutional

Wyoming Supreme Court
Amy Richards, Townsquare Media

Wyoming Supreme Court has declared Senate File 104 unconstitutional.

The released the following information Tuesday:

The first certified question from the district court states: “Does Senate Enrolled
Act 0001 violate Wyoming Constitution Article 7, Section 14?” We answer that question
as follows:

Yes. The “prescribed by law” provision in Article 7, Section 14 does not provide the legislature with unlimited authority to prescribe the powers and duties of the office of Superintendent. The legislative authority to prescribe is limited by the responsibility of “general supervision of the public schools” that was entrusted to the Superintendent in Article 7, Section 14. The legislature can prescribe powers and duties of the Superintendent, but it cannot eliminate or transfer powers and duties to such an extent that the Superintendent no longer maintains the power of “general supervision of the public schools.” The 2013 Act impermissibly transfers the power of general supervision from the elected constitutional office of Superintendent to the statutory office of Director of the Department of Education who is appointed by the Governor. Under the Act, the Superintendent no longer maintains the power of general supervision of the public schools. SEA 0001 is unconstitutional.

In light of our response to the first certified question, it is unnecessary to consider
Appellants’ challenges to the Act on the constitutional grounds identified in the
remaining certified questions. We remand to the district court for entry of an order
consistent with this opinion.

A dissenting opinion was filed by Chief Justice Marylin Kite and Justice Michael Golden, which concluded “the Court can reasonably reach is that the legislature has, in SEA 0001, constitutionally exercised its plenary power over the state educational system as mandated by the framers of the state constitution.”

 

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