Alaska Supreme Court asks for veto override - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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Alaska Supreme Court asks for veto override

On Wednesday, the Alaska Supreme Court issued a statement to the Alaska Legislature asking for an override to Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s budget cut to the court system.

The justices asked that their cost of living allowances for their staff be restored, totaling $1.756 million. They also asked  $337,700 for two appellate courts. The Dunleavy Administration had given the justification that if the Supreme Court wants the State to pay for elective abortions, it should do so out of its own budget, since both the executive branch and the legislative branch have decided the state should not be paying for these abortions.

The judges used their letter to explain about the three co-equal branches of government.

“At its most basic, this means that the legislature makes the law, the governor enforces the law, and the supreme court, when faced with a constitutional challenge to a law, is required to decide it,” they wrote.

“Legislators, governors, and all other Alaskans certainly have the right to their own opinions about the constitutionality of government action, but ultimately it is the courts that are required to decide what the constitution mandates. In a democracy based on majority rule, it is important that laws be interpreted fairly and consistently. We assure all Alaskans that the Alaska Court System will continue to render independent court decisions based on the rule of law, without regard to the politics of the day,” they wrote.

The statement was on Alaska Supreme Court letterhead but was not signed.

The State has deficit spent for over four years by $14 billion. The governor says that since the State is up against a fiscal cliff, the State is faced with tough decisions.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Can we have a little history of the Alaska Supreme Court members? They sound like a bunch of crybabies. Like they don’t make enough money and lifetime benefits already!

    • Agreed. Totally. Now we have the judicial branch whining for more money – just like all the rest of our “public servants.” Didn’t we abolish slavery a few decades ago? If they need more money, they are free to walk. Like the rest of the plebes.

  • We can all see that the maker(s) of the letter are afraid of getting fired…being shown as out of control and using the court to add to the corruption of the legislative malicious intent toward the elected governor and the government of the people that put people to work.. In other words, they are trying to play everyone, both sides of the issue. Time to fire the judges that think they can play with the government of the people wanting a budget that can be lived with. If anyone has been in the courts here in Anchorage, take a look at how busy they are NOT. But the pay is great…so, its time to think of electing judges or firing the worthless ones and be done with it. Is anyone impressed with them? Not me..

  • Maybe the Alaska Supreme Court should have upheld the statute regarding the PFD. >:( What a joke! How dare they ask for veto overrides! They should be backing Dunleavy in having the Alaska State Troopers arrest the Lawbreakers.

    • Mandy,
      Good Point!
      Let’s not forget that before Governor Walker garnished over half of what would have been the 2nd highest PFD in the State’s history (2016) he paid $ 1 Billion to the pension debt (2015) that benefits both the judges and administrators in the Alaska Court System…

      • This post is below and not sure how it got posted where it ended but this is where I intended it Steve:

        Steve, you well know that the State owes that pension debt, whether it’s paid in one particular year or another. And it’s a debt owed (and will be paid) either by appropriations by Legislature or required by the Courts in the future and so it doesn’t benefit those judges or administrators in the Alaska Court System.
        Go ahead and push for not paying it back and see how much interest you will be forced to pay (along with today’s indebtedness). Remember that interest is being generated by the best investors so it would be better served IMO to pay it off early.
        If you don’t believe me just ask your buddy Art Chance to give you his take on it. Heheh!

  • Wait … Majority rule? Democracy?

    Their while reason for being is to actually prevent mob rule.

    • Yes, these are the salient points the Supremes are trying to make. Why then, do these men and women in black robes consistently rule in favor with the minority?

  • The Governor was elected by a majority. A majority of the elected legislature voted against funding elective abortions. In order to uphold democracy, I support the governor’s veto.

  • Of all the functions provided by the state, I would rate the provision of justice at the bottom of the heap, it’s even worse than education in the bush. It’s also a function of government which the citizens have the least control, especially in the selection of justices and the administration of the courts.

    I hope the budget cuts stick and that the Justices get an idea of how deeply unhappy many of us are with the current system.

  • The “supremes” (if it’s really them) seem to be overstepping their mandate. If truly them, the “judges” are letting their politics dictate their actions. Their job of constitutional interpretation and enforcement does not delve into politics, except where constitutional political questions and/or decisions arise to be considered by them. That doesn’t include $$ for cronies/subordinates. At least, that’s what I’ve always believed. They agreed to their own salaries when they took the office. Lobbying of legislative, political ‘like minds’, for subordinates is not part of their mandate. They have just destroyed any respect I’ve ever had for their ‘rulings’, if they are truly behind the “letter”. The “sideways” money grab is typical of lib/dims, not “supremes”, who are, perforce, required to be apolitical in their directive to interpret/enforce the constitution. For supreme court justices, if them, to take this partisan action against a duly elected Governor and his attempts to reduce spending is outrageous. Questions aplenty here. Did the “letter” really come from the supreme court? An unsigned letter is highly suspicious as to authenticity. If not them, who? There must be dissenting opinions, if authentic. Where are they? Completely hard to believe, to me. Am I naïve, to believe what I believe?

  • Not a bad argument for a cost of living increase when you consider the Troopers got more than 15% increase to the pay over the last year.

  • Even the AK Supreme Court campaigning? I don’t think that’s allowed. A bar complaint, en banc?

    • JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT!!! Reportable to the Alaska Bar Association.

      • This is issue campaigning by the Alaska Supreme Court. Professional Rules of Responsibility disallow this activity and it is reportable to the Alaska Bar Association for an investigation. Ironically, the Supreme Court would end up deciding the matter. A conflict of interest??? Ahhhh…….yes.
        So, who is the brave soul that is going to file a bar complaint against each member of the Supreme Court for misconduct?

          • SUZANNE….. you are BRILLIANT!!!!!! And CORRECT.

          • Don’t complain to the AK Bar though…it is the Alaska Council on Judicial Conduct that handles the complaints against judges and it’s director Marla Greenstein has successfully covered up for bad judges there for over 39 years. I tried to get her out as one of the “asked for resignations” when Dunleavy first took office. She has buried the dirt for over 30 years for judges.

            I would suggest that the Surpreme Courts ask Judge Jennifer Wells from Kenai how she has so much spare time…she held three one hour hearings with not requiring my ex-husband to even show up. THREE extra hours on Judge Wells’ calendar. Maybe she can set the other judges calendar for them.
            A lot cheaper that trying to squeez the tax payer.

  • WAAAAA!!!

  • In the first place, I don’t understand how abortion is covered, pro or con, in the constitution which it is the court’s only job to interpret.

    • Steve, you well know that the State owes that pension debt, whether it’s paid in one particular year or another. And it’s a debt owed (and will be paid) either by appropriations by Legislature or required by the Courts in the future and so it doesn’t benefit those judges or administrators in the Alaska Court System.
      Go ahead and push for not paying it back and see how much interest you will be forced to pay (along with today’s indebtedness). Remember that interest is being generated by the best investors so it would be better served IMO to pay it off early.
      If you don’t believe me just ask your buddy Art Chance to give you his take on it. Heheh!

    • That should be your first hint as to why you won’t be serving on any court, Wayne.

  • Unsigned= waste paper. If you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to sign it (look mom, I’m being PC!) don’t waste the paper and taxpayer’s resources to send it.

  • If they didn’t sign it, it didn’t happen. I work in healthcare and that’s the standard the judges would hold me to. Ignore it.

  • Well done Governor Dunleavy.

  • ZERO sympathy here. Sorry. Cut ’em all. And when the whining starts up again (en banc), cut some more! So tired of all things government. I stand behind our Governor, MY Goverrnor – the only fiscally-responsible adult in the room.

    • Love your comments, Dave. btw, you are starting to sound a lot like your pop.

  • Somehow, the Alaska Supreme Court thought it was ‘legal’ for the State of Alaska to take from people without asking. They basically condoned the stealing of the PFD disbursement under Gov. Walker, as this money is meant for the people of Alaska. The Alaska Supreme court is packed with less than honorable justices, they should be given no quarter and definetly no pay raises.

  • A democracy based on majority rule???? Pledged the flag lately, justices????? Time for some CE classes… Let’s start with American history!!!

  • Hmmm where is that separation thing the court is talking about?

  • “Democracy based on majority rule.” There’s a good bit of Alaska’s problem identified. The Supreme Court doesn’t know what our system of governance is. Or, it’s pushing a false narrative trying to get people to buy into a mob rule governance system. At any rate, they all need to be gone since they are saying we are not a Republic based on the rule of law. Makes me question all this court’s rulings. I believe they do not rule according to law because they don’t seem to see the need to do so.

    • Jim, your understanding of “rule of law” is lacking a bit. We are definitely a state/country of ruled by laws (rather than men), however said “laws” must pass constitutional muster. And it’s the courts that determine whether/not our laws are constitutional.
      If you still don’t understand the issue, do some reading.

  • “Democracy based on majority rule”. Now we know why they gave the PFD to the Governor and Legislature. When the PFD case came before them, had they ruled according to the law, they would have seen the law required a certain mathematical formula be calculated and that amount be paid in the dividend. However, in accordance with their majority rule ideology, they reasoned that the Governor and Legislature were elected by the people so the majority wanted the PFD raided. Therefore, they handed it over. Mob Rule trumped rule of law.

  • The executive branch’s power over the courts lies in appointments & funding. The legislative’s power lies in funding. Courts can’t boo hoo when the other branches use their Constitutional power to fight court usurpation of their power.

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