Court Budgets & The Political Process

There have been tensions between the branches over court budgets in many states. And there have been instances where the legislature, Governor or both attempt to punish the courts through the budget process in retaliation for court decisions. There is a barn-burner of such a fight in Alaska. See below:


Alaska Governor Faces Recall Effort and Litigation Over Cuts to Court Budget
Recall Dunleavy, a group seeking to recall Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy, reports that it has obtained the required signatures for recall petitions following the Governor’s decision to cut $444 million from the state operating budget for the 2020 fiscal year. According to CNN, the group accuses Dunleavy of, “refusing to appoint a judge, misusing state funds, violating separation of powers and incompetently vetoing state funds.” One of Dunleavy’s budget vetoes central to the group’s campaign was his veto of $334,700 from the Alaska Court System’s 2020 budget in response to the Alaska Supreme Court’s decisions protecting abortion access.
In July, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alaska also filed a lawsuit to require Dunleavy’s administration to return the court’s funding. “Governor Dunleavy’s court system veto was an explicit measure of retaliation in response to a February 2019 Alaska Supreme Court decision holding unconstitutional the state’s attempts to limit indigent women’s rights to abortion,” according to the complaint. In a press release, the ACLU of Alaska further maintained that the Governor’s veto was “an impermissible exercise of executive authority that attacks Alaskans’ deep commitment to an independent judiciary, violates Alaska’s constitutional separation of powers, and illegally attempts to reallocate budget appropriations.”

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