The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday October 7th

Perdue must exercise caution

On Jan. 26, Gov. Bev Perdue surprised North Carolinians by announcing that her current and first term would be her last.

Rather than seeking re-election, Perdue said she wanted to focus on ensuring the state’s schoolchildren are not “the victims of shortsighted legislative actions and severe budget cuts inflicted by a legislative majority with the wrong priorities.”

Regardless of their views on education funding, citizens must be concerned about how Perdue uses her veto in the coming months.

It is her duty as governor to use that power in an appropriate manner, no matter the issues at stake.

Thus far, Perdue hasn’t been afraid to use this power.

Given the length of Perdue’s lame-duck period, this is an opportune time to consider whether her two criteria for vetoing bills are appropriate.

When asked about Perdue’s veto decision-making process, her spokesman said the governor first considers the constitutionality of the bill and then its impact on the state.

If a bill violates the state constitution, Perdue vetoes it. If she thinks that a bill would have a negative impact on the state, she vetoes it.

Her first criterion is good. Clearly, a bill that ignores the edicts of the constitution is illegitimate and should be vetoed. Even if such a bill is in the best interests of the citizenry, not following the constitution makes it illegitimate.

The idea of the importance of adhering to procedure in the political realm is not outlandish. Even if hundreds of people witness a murder and they are certain of the perpetrator’s guilt, he or she still must be found guilty in a court of law.

Similarly, the governor ought to veto bills that violate the supreme law of the state regardless of their nature. If she does not, the lawmaking procedure will be violated.

As for her second criterion, Perdue should only use her veto if the bill in question does not represent the preferences of a majority of the state’s citizens, not merely if she thinks it would have a negative impact on the state.

If, for example, a bill is passed that cuts funding to public schools, it should not be vetoed unless the legislature misrepresented the views of their constituents.

Whether we support Perdue’s views on educational funding or not, we all share a duty to safeguard the mechanisms of our state’s political system from abuse.

We do not want to let our current concerns about the budget to set a precedent that we will regret in the future.

It is not Perdue’s personal beliefs — or the fact that she has spent the majority of her life as an educator — that should matter when it comes to her decision on vetoing bills.

She must only consider her duty as governor.

Graham Clay is a junior philosophy and economics major from Raleigh. Contact him at

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