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Press Release

State files motion to dismiss in ACLU lawsuit over court veto

July 26, 2019

(Anchorage, AK) – The State filed today a motion to dismiss the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska's (ACLU) lawsuit against Governor Michael J. Dunleavy over his $334,700 line-item veto reduction of the Alaska Court System appropriation.

"The governor exercised significant line item vetoes regarding the executive to help balance the budget," said Attorney General Kevin G. Clarkson. "In comparison, the veto reducing the court system’s appropriation was minor. And yet, as a result of the ACLU’s complaint we are now having to spend finite legal resources defending what is clearly within the governor's express constitutional veto authority."

The motion to dismiss reiterates what the Alaska Constitution specifies shall occur in the constitutional budgeting process: "The Constitution…specifically leaves it to the legislative and executive branches to decide how much funding the court system, along with other state departments, requires." The issues raised by the ACLU are political questions and must be resolved by the political branches of government through the constitutional appropriations process. This process already includes sufficient checks and balances—the legislature passes the budget, the governor can strike or reduce specific budget items, and the legislature can override those vetoes.

"The court is not the proper forum to decide this political dispute," said Attorney General Clarkson. "The appropriate constitutional process has already played out and continues to play out between the legislature and the governor."

CONTACT: Assistant Attorney General Jessica Leeah at (907) 465-3600.

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Department Media Contact: Senior Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills at (907) 465-2132 or cori.mills@alaska.gov.