Sunday, January 17, 2010

St. Paul piles on

Word now comes that St. Paul might file a friend of the court brief in the unallotment lawsuit against Governor Gutshot. You’ll recall that a Ramsey County judge ruled against Gutshot’s use of unallotment for a dietary assistance program in a suit brought by six indigent Minnesota residents. The case is currently on appeal.

Spot hopes that St. Paul, or somebody, anyway, makes the point that the entire unallotment statute is unconstitutional. Here’s one argument that Hamline School of Law Professor Mary Jane Morrison says can be advanced:

[T]he unallotment statute is unconstitutional because it allows the executive branch to decide the appropriations of this state—either because it does not expressly prohibit what he did or because it expressly allows the Commissioner of Finance and the Governor to exercise legislative functions.

Spot suggested this line of reasoning some time ago. And unallotment does run contrary to the Article III separation of powers in the Minnesota Constitution. The statute is the derogation of a power and a duty that cannot be assigned to another branch of government.

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