Justices hear challenge to superintendent power

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Supreme Court's liberal-leaning justices are pressing a conservative attorney on why he's still fighting to force the state schools superintendent to get permission from the governor to enact regulations when the court has already ruled the superintendent is independent.

Republicans passed a law in 2011 that requires state agencies to get gubernatorial permission before writing regulations. The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in 2016 that the law doesn't apply to the superintendent because the position is a constitutional officer elected by the people.

Republicans passed a new law in 2017 that largely duplicates the 2011 law. Rick Esenberg, an attorney for conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, argued before the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the new law requires the superintendent to get the governor's permission.

Liberal-leaning Justice Rebecca Dallet said the court already has set precedent on the question. Esenberg said the issue is so important the court should revisit it.