I often hear Alaskans ask aloud, “How did our courts become so liberal?”
Given the way we pick judges in Alaska, the better question to ask is, “Why wouldn’t our judges be liberal?” After all, the selection process is largely controlled by a professional guild, the Alaska Bar Association, and the ABA tilts to the left –heavily to the left.
When liberals have the power to select our judges, the public is stuck with the decisions of liberal judges.
Alaska Family Council is pleased to release a study of the partisan leanings of Alaska’s legal elite.
The results are eye-opening: Among ABA members, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a wide margin – 27.48% to 15.85%. That’s polar opposite of voters in Alaska, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by nearly 2-to-1 (24.25% to 12.83%).
On Wednesday, Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger will deliver the annual “State of the Judiciary” address to a joint session of the Legislature.
Justice Bolger may brush off his talking points from his remarks to October’s Alaska Federation of Natives convention, where he warned about “attacks on judicial independence.”
That would be ironic, because for decades, activist judges in Alaska have waged a war against the legislative and executive branches of government. In case after case, these lawyers in black robes have trampled on the constitutional authority of lawmakers who obtain consent to govern us by winning an election.
We may be a red state, but the judicial branch of government is controlled by a legal elite that runs deep blue in Alaska.
Unfortunately, too many Alaskans are in the dark. Have you met folks who think the “Alaska Bar Association” means a trade group of pub owners? The trouble is, we’d more likely see a balanced judiciary if we allowed the pub owners to make the picks.
Nobody can become a judge in Alaska unless they are first nominated by the Alaska Judicial Council — and a majority of the Judicial Council members are members of the Alaska Bar Association. In fact, the ABA gets to choose three members of the Judicial Council, and these choices don’t have to be confirmed by the Legislature.
Think about this for a moment: If you want to serve on the Board of Barbers and Hairdressers, you’d have to win appointment by the Governor (the executive branch) and then win confirmation by the House and Senate (legislative branch). But if you’re a lawyer and want to serve on the panel that controls membership for the entire judicial branch of government, you just need to win approval from your liberal colleagues on the Alaska Bar Association. See any checks and balances in this process? Me neither.
That’s not all. The key tool used by the Alaska Judicial Council to evaluate lawyers applying to serve as judges is to conduct a “bar survey.” The bar survey asks all the members of ABA: What’s your opinion of this applicant? Not surprisingly, there’s a long track record of conservative lawyers receiving lousy scores on the Bar survey. That’s because liberal ABA members are highly motivated to prevent any conservative applicants from being included on the list of nominees that is forwarded to the governor.
What’s the solution?
One small step to fix Alaska’s broken judicial process would be to pass SJR 3, the resolution introduced by Senator Mike Shower. It would require the Bar members of the Alaska Judicial Council to be subject to legislative confirmation. Contact your senators today and ask them to sign on as a cosponsor of SJR 3.
President Abraham Lincoln, in his famous Gettysburg Address, spoke reverently about “government of the people, by the people, [and] for the people.” Sadly, in Alaska today, our judiciary has become “government of the lawyers, by the lawyers, and for the lawyers.”
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Please support Alaska Family Council’s ongoing efforts to bring accountability to the judicial branch of government.