ON-Lion Letter

In April, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) in Milwaukee filed an amicus curiae, or "friend-of-the-court," brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, asking it to review and reverse of a lower-court ruling that wrongly exempts the State Superintendent of Public Instruction from reasonable regulatory reform.

The Superintendent, like other administrative officers, does not make law.  He implements the laws passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.  Act 21, passed in 2011, reforms the regulatory and rulemaking process of state agencies by creating a new mechanism for agency oversight.  To prevent runaway rulemaking and to ensure that regulations are in accord with legislative intent, it requires gubernatorial approval of both the scope and language of proposed administrative rules.

Shortly after Act 21 was enacted, a group of teachers sued Gov. Scott Walker and then-Department of Administration Sec. Mike Huebsch, alleging the law was unconstitutional because it "usurps" the constitutionally prescribed role of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The Circuit Court ruled in their favor and that ruling was subsequently affirmed by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in February.

Recognizing the importance of Act 21 and the rulemaking process for education policy and education-reform efforts, former Speaker of the Assembly Scott Jensen and former Democratic Assemblyman Jason Fields are asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case and restore legislative and gubernatorial oversight over public policy.  Should the Appeals Court decision stand, it undermines the constitutional authority of the legislature to craft education policy and disproportionately places that role in the Department of Public Instruction.

Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation substantially supports WILL.

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