N.D. Legislature to meet regarding Fighting Sioux nicknnameNorth Dakota legislative leaders will meet today to consider retaining legal counsel to represent the Legislature in the Fighting Sioux nickname lawsuit at the state Supreme Court.
By: Chuck Haga, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
North Dakota legislative leaders will meet today to consider retaining legal counsel to represent the Legislature in the Fighting Sioux nickname lawsuit at the state Supreme Court.
Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, the House majority leader and author of a law requiring University of North Dakota to keep the nickname, said the interim Legislative Management Committee will meet by conference call at 2 p.m. from the Capitol.
Carlson’s law was adopted in April, repealed during a special session in November and reinstated this month upon the filing of petitions seeking to reverse the repeal in this June’s primary election.
The State Board of Higher Education, which questioned the constitutionality of the bill and opposed its passage when it reached the state Senate last spring, asked Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem last week to seek a declaratory judgment from the Supreme Court.
Stenehjem filed his request last Friday. In a brief also filed Friday, he said the nickname law intrudes on the board’s constitutional authority to operate institutions under its control. He asked the court to void the referral.
Carlson has restated his belief that the Legislature was within its rights on the nickname issue, and he vowed to fight the board’s action.
“We were not looking for a fight, but we will defend our rights as a co-equal branch of the government,” he said. “The Constitution created three co-equal branches of government, not four. The State Board of Higher Education is not above the law.”
Because Stenehjem’s office represents the board, he must assign outside counsel for the responding party in the lawsuit, the secretary of state. Carlson said last week that legislators “would be involved in who that outside counsel will be.”
The bipartisan 17-member Legislative Management Committee includes Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks.
Chuck Haga is a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald,
which is owned by Forum Communications Co.