By STEPHAN KRASON
Governor Michael Dunleavy of Alaska made national headlines with his novel challenge to a decision by state’s supreme court, which requires the Alaskan state government to fund abortions. Dunleavy vetoed a portion of the state’s appropriation for its judicial branch: a portion equal to the amount the court requires the government to provide for abortions each year. The ACLU has stormed into court with a suit against Dunleavy, claiming that his action threatens judicial independence. To quote their spokesman, the governor “cannot impermissibly interfere with the functions of another co-equal branch.”
Now, whether the ACLU can sue to defend the institutional prerogatives of a branch of state government is dubious. But the prerogative belongs with Dunleavy in the first place. The appropriation of public funds is squarely in the realm of the political branches of government, and the state’s constitution gives its governor line-item veto power. Needless to say, there are no exemptions on allocations for the judiciary. In this country, the power of appropriation has never resided in the courts.
Our great government institutional problem today isn’t the lack of judicial independence. Just the opposite, in fact: it’s the upsetting of the proper roles of the three branches, a result of the unchallenged persistent overreaching of judicial power.
The federal courts frequently act to alter or even subvert the meaning of the Constitution and its provisions, often for reasons of ideology. We have even allowed federal district courts to reach well beyond their territorial jurisdiction and issue nationwide injunctions.