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Supreme Court won't block Troopergate inquiry

Sean CockerhamMcClatchy-Tribune News Service

The Alaska Supreme Court today rejected an attempt by a group of six Republican legislators to shut down the Legislature's investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin.

The ruling means that Steve Branchflower, the investigator hired by the Legislative Council, will release his report as scheduled on Friday. Branchflower is looking into Palin's dismissal of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, and whether she improperly pressured him to fire a state trooper divorced from her sister.

The state Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute and Anchorage attorney Kevin Clarkson, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Alaska Republican state legislators opposed to their colleagues' investigation.

The state legislators whose names appeared on the appeal attempting to stop the investigation are Wes Keller, Mike Kelly, Fred Dyson, Tom Wagoner, Carl Gatto and Bob Lynn.

Their lawyers argued that allowing the investigation to proceed would threaten the right under the Alaska Constitution to a "fair and just" investigation by the Legislature. They allege bias among the legislators who are leading the investigation, and that the Legislative Council lacks the authority to order the probe.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michalski ruled last week that the conduct of the investigation did not violate the right to fairness. He found the Legislature has the right to investigate and issues like whether it happens through a council or committee are not for the courts to decide and is "business to be left to the legislative branch."

The Alaska Supreme Court today upheld Michalski's ruling in a two-page decision. The court clerk, Marilyn May, wrote that a full opinion explaining why would be coming.

Find Sean Cockerham online at adn.com/contact/scockerham or call 257-4344.

PDF: Supreme Court ruling
PDF: Motion in opposition
PDF: Motion for appeal
PDF: Supreme Court order granting consideration
By SEAN COCKERHAM