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July 30, 2018

The Supreme Court issued a decision today in the lawsuit brought by North Dakota’s Legislature against Governor Burgum over line-item vetoes he issued following the 2017 legislative session.  The Supreme Court’s decision dealt with the Legislature’s challenge to the vetoes, as well as the Governor’s cross-petition challenging the constitutionality of the Legislature’s delegation to its Budget Section Committee to restrict the use of already-appropriated funds in two of the bills at issue.  Attorney General Stenehjem represented the Governor and argued the case before the Supreme Court.

Stenehjem said, “I am very pleased with today’s decision, particularly the Supreme Court’s recognition of the significant constitutional principles raised in the cross-petition. The Supreme Court’s decision is a recognition of the democratic process and the importance of the checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of government inherent in our Constitution.  The Supreme Court recognized the unconstitutionality of the Legislature’s attempt to restrict the use of appropriations by requiring the approval of the Budget Section, which is a subsect of the full legislative assembly.”

The Supreme Court’s decision was consistent with an opinion issued by Stenehjem prior to the Legislature’s lawsuit, in which he had determined that three of the line-item vetoes were invalid. The Supreme Court also agreed with Stenehjem’s argument that the provisions in House Bill 1020 and Senate Bill 2013, attempting to restrict the use of already-appropriated funds through the Budget Section, were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court held that the Legislature had improperly “encroache[d] upon the role of the executive, and also bypasse[d] the mandatory legislative process” for making appropriations.

Read the Supreme Court's Opinion


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