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Federal judge to rule on motion to stop Gordon from choosing next superintendent

Judge Gavel

A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily stopped Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon from selecting the state’s next top education official until noon on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl issued the order on Jan. 26, which temporarily prohibits Gordon from choosing the next state superintendent of public instruction, a position that has been vacant since Jillian Balow’s abrupt resignation earlier this month as she moved to take a similar position in Virginia.

The order will give the court time to hear arguments concerning a motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent Gordon from making his selection from the three candidates- Brian Schroeder, Marti Halverson, and Thomas Kelly- who were chosen by the Wyoming Republican Central Committee as finalists to serve as the state’s top education official on Saturday, Jan. 22.

A ruling on the motion is expected by noon on Thursday, according to Skavdahl’s order.

The Wyoming GOP’s selection process has come under attack recently by 16 individuals who have filed a lawsuit against the party alleging that the three candidates were chosen through an unconstitutional process that favors counties with smaller populations over counties with larger populations, according to Sheridan Media.

State law dictates that Balow’s replacement, since she was a republican, be chosen from three candidates put forth by the Republican State Central Committee, which is comprised of three people from each county. Gordon is then tasked with choosing a state superintendent within a certain time frame, in this case by Thursday, Jan. 27,

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit believe the process violates the “one man- one vote” principle reportedly laid out in both the Wyoming Constitution and the U.S. Constitution by not ensuring that votes by the committee are proportionate to each county’s population.

Essentially, the plaintiffs believe that counties with larger populations should get more votes than counties with smaller populations.