Alaska News

Hold judge accountable for decisions

How many judges does it takes to change a light bulb? The answer - Just one. She holds it still and the whole world revolves around her.

On Nov. 2, Alaskans can change the course of that rotation by voting whether to accept or reject a number of judges up for retention. If history is any indication, most people will be completely in the dark about their decision. Despite the fact that the judiciary has the power to transform our culture through its rulings, the general public is mostly unaware of the role it has in shaping the courts.

The authors of our state constitution wisely decided that voters should be able to periodically approve or reject judges and justices based on their performance. Justices on the Supreme Court appear before voters only once every 10 years.

Alaskans should pay close attention to one justice up for retention on the Alaska Supreme Court. Her name is Dana Fabe and the time has come for her to be held accountable for the outrageous decisions she's imposed on the people of Alaska.

Remember Ballot Measure 2, the parental notification initiative regarding a minor's abortion that Alaskans recently voted in support of? Justice Fabe wrote the decision striking down the law the Alaska Legislature had overwhelmingly passed requiring a parent's consent for this surgical procedure. Her ruling forced the people of Alaska to take back their rights as parents.

Justice Fabe has also abused her authority in rulings that prohibited Alaskans from voting on a proposed amendment limiting the rights of prisoners, struck down part of an amendment defining marriage in our constitution before voters had their say and ordered Valley Hospital to perform abortions -- even though their board didn't want to. So much for "freedom of choice."

The Alaska Judicial Council, the group created to screen and nominate judicial applicants and evaluate the performance of judges, thinks Justice Fabe should stay because she's competent, intelligent and she hasn't had any disciplinary issues. Although these are important issues in determining whether to retain a judge, they have nothing to do with why Justice Fabe should be voted off the bench.


Alaskans have the right to vote on judges based on whether they agree with the judicial philosophy the judge brings to the bench. Although you won't hear it from the Alaska Judicial Council, there are distinct differences between an activist judge who interprets the constitution as a "living" document that can be used to create laws and rights hiding behind "shadows" and an originalist judge who sees the role as interpreting and applying the constitution and laws according to the original intent of those who wrote the documents.

This division exists at the U.S. Supreme Court with Justices Bryer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Stevens taking a more liberal approach in their rulings and Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas ruling in a more conservative manner consistent with the original intent of our U.S. Constitution. Bottom line is that a clear difference exists between originalists and activists just as it does between conservatives and liberals and Alaskans have the right to choose.

In Justice Byron White's dissenting opinion in the landmark 7-2 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, that legalized abortion, he put it this way -- "I find no constitutional warrant for imposing such an order of priorities on the people and legislatures of the states... This issue, for the most part, should be left with the people and to the political processes the people have devised to govern their affairs." He knew what the limitations of the judicial system were and that Roe v. Wade had crossed that line.

If judges are going to act like politicians and legislate from the bench, we should treat them as such and vote them off when they continue to push their agenda on the rest of us. On Nov. 2, vote no on Justice Dana Fabe and keep the light of the constitution shining brightly.

Jim Minnery is president of Alaska Family Action, the advocacy arm of the Alaska Family Council.


Jim Minnery

Jim Minnery is president and founder of Alaska Family Action, statewide, pro-family public policy organization that exists to provide a voice on social and cultural issues impacting Alaskan families.