UPDATE: Judge Scott Skavdahl denied the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order Thursday morning, effectively green-lighting Gov. Mark Gordon to select a new state superintendent of public instruction from the three nominees advanced by the Wyoming GOP Central Committee. Gordon selected Brian Schroeder, Sr., he announced late Thursday. –Ed.
In the wake of a legal challenge filed Tuesday, a U.S. District Court judge temporarily blocked Gov. Mark Gordon from selecting a replacement for Wyoming’s superintendent of public instruction.
In the order, Judge Scott Skavdahl barred the governor from filling the vacant position before noon on Thursday with any of the three candidates forwarded to him by the Wyoming Republican State Central Committee.
A group of 16 plaintiffs filed suit to challenge the process, arguing that the Wyoming GOP used an “unconstitutional” voting process to select three nominees.
The judge is expected to rule sometime before the Thursday deadline on the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order that was intended to halt the process.
Thursday’s ruling will either give the governor the green light to make a decision, or it will hit pause once more on the process for additional 14 days at the most, according to Noah Novogrodsky, a University of Wyoming College of Law professor.
Wednesday’s temporary order is not indicative of how the court might rule, Patrick Crank, former Wyoming attorney general and legal counsel for the plaintiffs, said.
“Can we read anything into this? Absolutely not,” Crank said.
Brian Shuck, legal counsel for the Wyoming Republican Party, did not return WyoFile’s call before press time. In a newsletter sent out Wednesday afternoon, GOP Chairman Frank Eathorne attacked the lawsuit, but did not address the judge’s order.
“The Wyoming Republican Party was sued yesterday, not for violating a statute, but instead for following one,” he wrote.
Gordon “will comply with the court order” issued Wednesday and will await a decision from Judge Skavdahl before taking any further action, Michael Pearlman, Gordon’s communications director, wrote in an email to WyoFile.
Pearlman also confirmed that the governor conducted in-person interviews Tuesday with all three candidates the central committee put forth. Those include Marti Halverson, Brian Schroeder, Sr. and Thomas Kelly.