Gov. Mark Gordon is asking a federal court to allow him to follow Wyoming law and proceed with the appointment of a new superintendent of public instruction.
Gordon, in a court brief filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, asked Judge Scott Skavdahl to deny a request for a temporary restraining order that would prevent him from appointing a new superintendent to finish out the term of Jillian Balow in accordance with state law.
“As the duly elected governor of the state of Wyoming, Gov. Gordon has taken an oath to uphold the laws of the state …” the brief said. “Thus, Gov. Gordon’s interest in this matter is to comply with Wyoming law and fulfill his duties as the governor.”
Balow resigned earlier this month to take a similar job in Virginia.
Under state law, Gordon is to appoint a replacement by midnight Thursday from a list of nominees provided by the central committee of the Wyoming Republican Party.
The party’s central committee on Saturday selected three nominees from a field of 12 applicants.
However, the selection process is being challenged by a bipartisan group of Wyoming residents in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday.
The lawsuit alleges that the selection process used by the central committee violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. and Wyoming constitutions.
According to the lawsuit, because the central committee is made up of three representatives of each county, when making decisions such as selecting nominees for the superintendent’s job, counties with smaller populations have a disproportionately large influence on the outcome.
The process violates the concept of “one man, one vote,” according to the lawsuit.
The request for a temporary restraining order aimed at blocking Gordon from acting on the vacancy was filed at the same as the lawsuit.
Skavdahl was expected to rule on the request by noon Thursday.
Gordon, in his brief opposing the order, noted that the lawsuit challenges the way the GOP selects nominees, not the way he selects replacements for statewide office.
“Even so, the governor does have an interest in being able to exercise his required duties under Wyoming statute as well as in seeing a vacancy in an executive branch office filled expeditiously,” the filing said.
The nominee selection process within the party does not violate the “one man, one vote” rule as alleged in the lawsuit, the brief said.
“This statutory process did not deprive Wyoming voters of fair and effective representation, regardless of the procedure the committee followed to select the nominees,” it said.
A temporary restraining order is often issued when it is likely that a lawsuit will be successful. Gordon’s brief, however, said it is unlikely the plaintiffs will succeed, so the restraining order should not be issued.