The Latest: Justice: Law doesn’t reduce school chief’s power
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on a lawsuit seeking to force Wisconsin’s schools superintendent to get permission from the governor before enacting regulations and policy (all times local):
A conservative-leaning Wisconsin Supreme Court justice is suggesting that requiring the state schools superintendent to get the governor’s permission to enact regulations doesn’t reduce the superintendent’s executive powers.
Republicans passed a law in 2017 that requires the superintendent to get the governor’s permission before promulgating regulations and policies. Attorneys for the state Department of Public Instruction argued before the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the law gives the governor control of the agency even though the superintendent is an independently elected officer.
Justice Dan Kelly told the DPI’s attorney, Lester Pines, that even if the superintendent can’t craft policy he or she would still have plenty to do enacting the Legislature’s policies, preserving the office’s executive authority.
Pines responded that the essence of the problem is the law makes the governor the superintendent of public instruction.
The state Supreme Court’s liberal-leaning justices are pressing a conservative attorney on why he’s still fighting to force the state schools superintendent to get permission from the governor to enact regulations when the court has already ruled the superintendent is independent.
Republicans passed a law in 2011 that requires state agencies to get gubernatorial permission before writing regulations. The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in 2016 that the law doesn’t apply to the superintendent because the position is a constitutional officer elected by the people.
Republicans passed a new law in 2017 that largely duplicates the 2011 law. Rick Esenberg, an attorney for conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, argued before the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the new law requires the superintendent to get the governor’s permission.
Liberal-leaning Justice Rebecca Dallet said the court already has set precedent on the question. Esenberg said the issue is so important the court should revisit it.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging the state schools superintendent’s authority to craft regulations independently.
Republicans have been trying to limit the superintendent’s powers for years. The GOP passed a law in 2011 that requires state agencies to get the governor’s permission before writing regulations. The Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that the law didn’t apply to the superintendent.
Republicans passed new laws in 2017 requiring agencies to get permission from the governor and the Department of Administration to write regulations. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative law firm, has asked the Supreme Court to declare that the new requirements apply to the superintendent.
Oral arguments in the case begin Wednesday.