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Gov. Burgum’s District 8 appointment is denied by State Supreme Court

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 11:49 AM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - In a unanimous decision, the State Supreme Court has stopped the Governor from appointing someone to the District 8 State House seat.

Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., filed the District 8 lawsuit claiming he has the power to appoint someone to the House seat left vacant by a deceased candidate.

He claimed the state constitution gave him gubernatorial authority to fill the vacancy if there’s “no other method” provided by law.

Justice Daniel Crothers called Gov. Burgum’s constitutional interpretation unconvincing.

The court sided with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s previous opinion from October, which stated that the candidate’s death will create a vacancy that can be filled through a district party appointment.

“Law provides a method for filling this vacancy, the Governor’s gap-filling authority is not available,” said the court.

Burgum released a statement saying: “This case involved a question of the governor’s constitutional responsibility in a set of circumstances never before seen in North Dakota. The Supreme Court determined that responsibility is not applicable in this case. While we disagree with the findings, we respect the Court’s opinion and will continue to do our best every day to serve the citizens of North Dakota.”

In a statement, Attorney General Stenehjem said: “This entire exercise was a waste of taxpayer dollars and time, all of which could have been avoided had the Governor came across the hall to receive legal advice from the person who was elected by the citizens of North Dakota.”

The justices also said that Democratic-NPL Kathrin Volochenko, who received the third highest amount of votes, would need the second highest amount of votes to truly win the seat.

Without receiving that, Volochenko cannot stop the vacancy from persisting in District 8.

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