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Alaska Legislature

Governor repeats $335,000 veto from Alaska judiciary budget over court’s abortion rulings

Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Monday repeated his $334,700 veto against the Alaska Court System for its rulings on elective abortions, despite a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and a recall effort that lists the budget decision among its grievances against the governor.

“Dunleavy’s veto was a brazen and unprecedented attack on our constitutional separation of powers and it still is," said Casey Reynolds, a spokesman with the ACLU in Alaska. "Nothing has changed.“

Matt Shuckerow, a spokesman for the governor, said Dunleavy’s justification for the veto hasn’t changed since his original veto on June 28, for the same amount. The amount vetoed is equal to the amount the state paid for elective abortions last year, the governor said shortly after that decision.

The veto is a response to the Alaska Supreme Court’s rulings blocking attempts by the Legislature to bar the state’s Medicaid program from paying for abortions outside of cases of rape, incest and instances where the mother’s life is in danger.

Dunleavy repeated the veto in House Bill 2001, where the Legislature attempted to override many of the governor’s June 28 vetoes.

On Monday, the Dunleavy administration re-issued the same language it used to explain the original veto in June.

“The Legislative and Executive Branch are opposed to State funded elective abortions; the only branch of government that insists on State funded elective abortions is the Supreme Court," said a budget document released by the administration on Monday. “The annual cost of elective abortions is reflected by this reduction.”

The ACLU sued the governor in July, arguing that he’s seeking to punish the court system for decisions he doesn’t agree with, in violation of the Alaska Constitution and the separation of powers doctrine.

A recall effort that says it’s quickly acquiring signatures to remove Dunleavy from office has also listed the decision on its grounds for recall. It says the governor violated the separation of powers by improperly using his line-item veto power to attack the judiciary and the rule of law.

Jessica Cler, Alaska state director for Planned Parenthood, said she wasn’t surprised the governor repeated his “spiteful” veto against the courts.

“Unfortunately we’re not surprised,” she said. “The governor will stop at nothing to punish people who uphold the Constitution."

Shuckerow said the governor in June and on Monday was acting within his constitutional authority with the line-item veto.

In July, state Attorney General Kevin Clarkson said in response to the ACLU filing that the governor’s constitutionally granted line-item veto power includes all appropriations bills, including those affecting the court system.

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