American Experiment Files Brief in Dayton Line Item Veto Case

Center of the American Experiment has filed a “friend of the court” or amicus brief with the Minnesota Supreme Court in the line-item veto case between the current Legislature and Governor Mark Dayton.

Governor Dayton used his line-item veto power in an attempt to force the Legislature to agree to another special session and to concede major policy changes he had already agreed to in negotiations and signed into law.

The Center argued to uphold the ruling from Ramsey County District Court that found Governor Dayton’s attempt to defund the Legislature violated the Minnesota Constitution.

“This case should be decided with a straight-forward separation of powers analysis,” said Kim Crockett, General Counsel for Center of the American Experiment. “The only challenging aspect of this case is that until this spring, no governor had ever tried to defund another branch of state government. Dayton’s veto left Minnesotans without a republican form of government for four years. Dayton’s act was without precedent, and a result, there is no controlling case law. Like the judge in Ramsey County, the Court must look to the Minnesota Constitution and how the separation of powers doctrine has been applied in the past.”

The Center used literary license in its brief by creating a fictional scenario: Imagine if the Governor had line-item vetoed funding for our state courts because he was displeased with a judicial decision and threatened to withhold operating funds until the court changed its mind?

“The point we are making is meant to be helpful to anyone struggling with whether Dayton acted constitutionally,” Crockett explained. “Why is defunding a coequal branch, that is the legislature, any less objectionable than defunding the courts? This is not a political dispute that the Court should cleverly parse or avoid as non-justiciable. It is a legal one, and if permitted to stand, a constitutional crisis.”

The Center was the only organization to file an amicus brief. The complete 13 page brief can be read on-line.

Oral argument is scheduled for Monday, August 28 at 9:00 AM in the Supreme Court’s Capitol Courtroom in the State Capitol.