The Duke Student Government Judiciary overturned President Keizra Mecklai’s line-item veto that stripped the Chanticleer, Duke’s yearbook, of $20,000 in funding. It also declared a bill that decreased the funding allocation for the Peer Advocacy for Sexual Health center “null and void” following Monday’s arguments.
Petitioners Executive Vice President John Guarco, a junior, and junior Tanner Lockhead, vice president for Durham and regional affairs, had argued that Mecklai’s line-item veto of $20,000 Chanticleer funding from the annual budget was unconstitutional since it was not an overall veto of a statute.
The Judiciary agreed, meaning that the annual budget as passed last week remains in effect.
"I am pleased that the Judiciary has accepted the argument put forth by Tanner and myself on the unconstitutionality of the line-item veto. This is a victory for the student body," Guarco wrote in an email.
Mecklai’s veto of a separate $20,000 transfer of funds from DSG’s surplus to fund the Chanticleer was not challenged and remains in effect. Mecklai wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon that the decision establishing the budget as a single piece of legislation, rather than multiple pieces, may limit the president’s ability to veto the budget at all.
"There isn't time for the annual budget to be reintroduced and debated (with the requisite two readings) as the second reading of the budget is always scheduled during the second to last or last senate meeting of the year," Mecklai wrote.
She added that she hoped the Senate would not overturn the veto at Tuesday night's Senate meeting.
After her initial line-item veto Sunday, Mecklai, a senior, vetoed the entire annual budget before the Judiciary reached its decision in the case. The Judiciary then said it would not hear the case because the overall veto would override the line-item veto, at which point Mecklai rescinded the overall budget veto so that the case would be decided.
The Judiciary’s full decision can be viewed below.
The Judiciary also ruled on the case involving the funding allocation for the new PASH center.
The Senate voted April 13 to fund the PASH center with $17,252. At its next meeting, the Senate passed the PASH Responsibility Act, which specified line-items of the total sum, including $5,000 for sexual health products and another $10,000 to be used for both sexual health and sexual pleasure products. The act was submitted by Josh Curtis, a freshman senator for academic affairs, and Jackson Dellinger, a freshman senator for Durham and regional affairs.
After that bill passed in the Senate, freshman Michael Brunetti, a senator for services, and sophomore senator Edward Torgas introduced the PASH Reform Bill, which reduced total PASH funding to $12,762, increased funding for sexual health products to $10,000 and reduced funding for sexual pleasure products to $500.
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Petitioners junior Ilana Weisman, vice president for equity and outreach, sophomore Riyanka Ganguly, vice president-elect for equity and outreach, and Curtis filed a complaint to the Judiciary Saturday arguing that the PASH Reform Act—and its accompanying funding changes—were invalid because of an entrenchment clause in the PASH Responsibility Act. That clause specified that the Responsibility Act could only be overridden by legislation with the “explicit, sole purpose” of repealing the Responsibility Act. Because the Reform Act changed funding allocations, instead of solely repealing the Responsibility Act, it ought to be invalidated, petitioners argued.
The Judiciary’s majority opinion ruled in favor of the petitioners, keeping in place the funding outlined by the Responsibility Act and declaring the Reform Bill “null and void.” According to the majority opinion, the court found that the “explicit, sole purpose” entrenchment clause was enforceable, because it was not a significant obstacle to the legislative process.
The Judiciary’s full opinion regarding the PASH center funding allocation can be viewed here:
The Judiciary’s full opinion regarding the veto of Chanticleer funding can be viewed here:
Check back for updates on this developing story.