I write today to urge a “yes” vote on the retention of Justice Susan Carney to the Alaska Supreme Court.
As a career state attorney, both as an assistant district attorney, and assistant attorney general, I became acquainted with Susan Carney shortly after she first moved to Fairbanks years ago. We were opposing counsel on numerous criminal, delinquent, and child protection cases. While there were times of vigorous disagreement between us, I always found Sue well prepared, thorough, used resources wisely, and a very able advocate. We are all fortunate to have such a bright, capable, and dedicated person serving us in our highest court.
Recently, a committee formed urging non-retention of Justice Carney due her support in the majority in three recent decisions of the Alaska Supreme Court. I reviewed the lengthy decisions, and find the rulings consistent with historical precedent, constitution, and law.
The first case complained of concerns the Alaska Sex offender registration statutes. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled on two important issues. It first ruled out-of-state sex offenders moving to Alaska are required to comply with Alaska’s sex offender laws. The second ruling found persons required to register as sex offenders in Alaska must be given the opportunity to prove to the trial court they have been rehabilitated and are no longer a danger to the community. If the the sex offender can show rehabilitation, s/he may be relieved of the registration requirement. Precedent for the 49-page opinion was found in dozens of decisions of the United States Supreme Court, U.S. District Courts, state supreme courts from around the country, the Alaska Constitution and 25 years of Alaska case law. On page 41 of the decision, the Alaska Supreme Court observed over one-half of the states have similar provisions requiring sex offenders have an opportunity to demonstrate rehabilitation and be relieved of the registration requirements.
While this ruling may seem to let sex offenders off the hook, it actually provides sex offenders incentive to pursue treatment. Treatment will can only benefit the community.
The second decision for which Justice Carney is criticized is a decision regarding abortion funding. Both the United State and the Alaska Supreme Court have long history of abortion rulings. The latest Alaska Supreme Court decision is simply consistent with the historical constitutional decisions.
The third gripe is a decision regarding the amount of permanent fund dividends. The unanimous Alaska Supreme Court upheld the governor’s constitutional authority to veto legislative appropriations, including those for Permanent Fund dividends.
While we may not agree with the results of these decisions, they are well supported by the constitution, law, and precedent. The complaints of those who find the rulings distasteful are not properly with Justice Carney, who was simply doing her job, but with the constitution and law.
Alaska is well served by Justice Carney. Please vote “yes” to retain her.
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