ACLU allowed to proceed with lawsuit against governor over court budget cuts

    An ACLU lawsuit against Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s decision to veto $334,700 from the state court system’s budget has been approved to move forward. Anchorage Superior Court judge Jennifer Henderson’s Dec. 12 ruling did not comment on the merits of the suit, but she did reject the state’s request to have it dismissed.

    All parties agree that the governor’s veto is a constitutional power. The only issue is the governor’s explanation attached to the veto.

    Oral arguments were first heard on Nov. 5. At issue is Governor Dunleavy’s veto of $334,700 to the Alaska Court System. Or, more precisely, Dunleavy’s explanation that the Alaska Supreme Court should pay for the state-funded elective abortions it insists upon, which are opposed by the other two branches of Alaska’s government.

    All parties agree that the governor’s veto is a constitutional power. The only issue is the governor’s explanation attached to the veto.

    “The court should not unilaterally override the governor and step into the shoes of 45 legislators, the amount necessary to override a governor’s veto under Alaska’s constitution,” Leeah said in court on Nov. 5.

    Plaintiffs, however, argued that the governor’s actions represent an unprecedented threat to the independence of the judiciary, and they seek the restoration of the $334,700 to the appellate courts, and an injunction ordering Dunleavy “to refrain from further intrusion or interference with the judiciary branch.”

    The case could possibly make it to the Alaska Supreme Court, which would then be in a position to decide whether the executive branch’s decision to veto money from the judicial branch is constitutional.

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