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On March 5, 2008, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted against passage of a bill (HB 1292) that would have repealed the 2003 law authorizing the College to amend its charter without special legislative act. The vote affirmed the recommendation of the House Commerce Committee which voted 14-1 to reject the bill.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Maureen Mooney of Merrimack, would have stripped Dartmouth of autonomy to revise its charter -- a right enjoyed by most other private non-profit organizations in the state. Had the bill been enacted, the College would have been required to seek approval from the legislature for any changes to the College's charter. The College opposed the bill, which appeared to be a direct response to the changes in the size and composition of the board of trustees adopted by the College in September.
Dartmouth General Counsel Robert Donin issued the following statement:
"Dartmouth is pleased that the House of Representatives has rejected House Bill 1292. This bill would have set a dangerous precedent threatening not only Dartmouth's academic freedom, but the autonomy of every private, non-profit organization in New Hampshire. Nearly 200 years ago, in the famous 'Dartmouth College Case,' Daniel Webster argued passionately and successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court that private colleges should be allowed to pursue their educational mission free of political interference. The Legislature's rejection of this bill strongly re-affirms that principle and is an important victory that will help protect the College's governance from inappropriate outside influence."