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The act plays poorly

Mar 25, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

Insulting voters is the wrong way for the state to prevails in the Cindy Hill case

Initial arguments in state schools superintendent Cindy Hill's lawsuit against the State of Wyoming for stripping most of her duties and handing them to an appointed executive were heard last week in a Cheyenne courtroom.

Hill was roughed up during the recent session of the Wyoming Legislature, which passed the controversial bill known as SF104, but she seemed to have a better day in court, at least on the surface.

Hill is asking that all of her former duties be restored while the longer process of litigating the new state law proceeds. The latter action could take a year or more, and Hill hopes she can be allowed to do her job until the larger case is resolved.

Implying the magnitude of the case, the lower court judge who first heard almost immediately decided to punt the matter up to the Wyoming Supreme Court.

From the beginning, lawmakers who pressed so hard and so quickly for the quick action against Hill seem not to have understood how poorly their act was playing across the state. expressions of support among general public for the SF104 have been virtually non-existent, while criticism of the unprecedented legislative power play against an elected state official has been loud, persistent and widespread.

Now the courts have it, and an odd development in last Thursday's testimony didn't help the case against Hill. It happened when the attorney handling the state's side of the case tried to refute Hill's claim that the will and desires of voters had been eroded by the new law.

The government attorney disagreed with that premise, and his argument included the contention that most Wyoming voters probably don't even remember who they voted for in the 2010 election.

Wrong answer.

More than 113,000 voters cast their ballots for Cindy Hill, and it borders on the bone-headed to argue in a court of law that they don't remember doing it.

The tone-deafness of her detractors continues, and it could prove pivotal, if not in court, then next year on the ballot, when Hill says she will run for governor.

Until that campaign arrives in earnest, one of her challenges is to keep her case, her name and the widespread disapproval of what was done to her alive in the public consciousness for another year or so.

That shouldn't be hard to do if the state's lawyer keeps saying things like that.

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