The state has filed a motion to dismiss the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska's lawsuit against Gov. Mike Dunleavy. The lawsuit, filed by ACLU earlier this month, claims the governor's veto to the court system was "a startling breach of the separation of powers."

Dunleavy vetoed $334,700 from the appellate courts, citing the Alaska Supreme Court's ruling on government-funded abortions:

"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. The annual cost of elective abortions is reflected by this reduction. The Federal Government also prohibits any federal funds paying for elective abortions."

The advocacy group announced its filing of a lawsuit against Dunleavy July 17 over the move. The cut represents one of Dunleavy's smaller vetoes, but the ACLU warned it could set a dangerous precedent if left unchecked.

The state filed its motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Thursday. According to a press release from the Alaska Department of Law, "the issues raised by the ACLU are political questions and must be resolved by the political branches of government through the constitutional appropriations process."

"The governor exercised significant line item vetoes regarding the executive to help balance the budget," said Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson. "In comparison, the veto reducing the court system’s appropriation was minor. And yet, as a result of the ACLU’s complaint we are now having to spend finite legal resources defending what is clearly within the governor's express constitutional veto authority."

The state's motion says the Alaska Constitution leaves the budgeting process in the hands of the legislative and executive branches. The process, the state claims, already includes sufficient checks and balances.

"The court is not the proper forum to decide this political dispute," Clarkson said. "The appropriate constitutional process has already played out and continues to play out between the legislature and the governor."

ACLU of Alaska Executive Director Joshua Decker said the veto represents an act of retaliation because Dunleavy's personal political views are at odds with the court's abortion ruling and the lawsuit claims the move violates the separation of powers doctrine.

"This lawsuit is not about your position on a woman's right to choice," he said. "This lawsuit is about the governor illegally politicizing our judiciary."

The state's motion does not mention the abortion issue other than when presenting the factual background and ACLU's complaint.

"For purposes of resolving the motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs’ factual allegations are presumed to be true," the motion states. "The State does not, however, admit the accuracy of any specific allegations by repeating them here."

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