Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summary 2008 WY 72

Summary of Decision issued June 25, 2008

Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Case Name: Newport Int’l University v. State

Citation: 2008 WY 72

Docket Number: S-07-0234

Appeal from the District Court of Albany County, the Jeffrey A. Donnell, Judge.

Representing Appellant: C.M. Aron and Galen Bruce Woelk of Aron and Hennig, LLP, Laramie, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee: Bruce A. Salzburg, Wyoming Attorney General; Robin Sessions Cooley, Deputy Attorney General.

Newport International University, Inc. (NIU) appealed from a summary judgment granted in favor of the State, Department of Education and Mr. McBride (Department). The question to be answered was whether the Private School Licensing Act violated the Wyoming Constitution.
Equal Protection: In order to establish a violation of equal protection, NIU must have shown that similarly situated entities are treated differently and that the disparate treatment was not rationally related to a legitimate governmental objective. The Court agreed with the district court that no classification had been created by the Act. Therefore it was unnecessary to do any further analysis. The Act regulates one specific well-defined class, private degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions. All organizations in the category must be accredited.
Improper Delegation: State constitutional vesting clauses are the primary source of limitations on delegations. It helps to insure the traditional and important separation of democratic powers by disbursing political power to the several branches. The Court adopted the analytical focus of whether the delegation violated concepts of due process and whether it was reasonable. The requirement of accreditation is a delegation of power made by the Department to the accrediting institution which does not violate the Wyoming Constitution.
Impairment of Contracts/Special Laws: The Court noted that it is well established that the contract clause of the Constitution does not restrict the power of the state to legislate in the interest of the morals, health, and safety of the public. A state has the authority to enact such laws as reasonably are deemed to be necessary. Wyoming has the authority to impose reasonable regulations in state educational institutions. To the extent the accreditation process requires a contract between NIU and the accrediting entity, the need of the state to protect citizens outweighs the contract rights of NIU.

Holding: The Court found there was no equal protection violation because different classifications are not created under the Act or the rules. The requirement that private degree granting institutions be accredited contains specific standards and allows for judicial review insuring due process protections for the institutions. The delegating of accrediting authority is reasonable and often used by state governments. The State has the authority under its police powers to regulate private educational institutions even though this may have some impact on the institution’s contracts.


Dist.J. Park delivered the decision.

Link: .

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses the "Universal Citation." It was given an "official" citation when it was issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. Please note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you pinpoint cite to a quote, you should cite to this paragraph number rather than to any page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]

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