Bias revealed: Supreme Court justice prevents redistricting board’s lawyer from being able to state his case

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The political boundaries that have been challenged by partisans were reviewed by the Alaska Supreme Court today. And during the first hearing, the bias of at least one of the Supreme Court justices was Exhibit A for why Alaska may want to vote for a constitutional convention, if only to reform the judiciary.

During the 30 minutes of time allotted for the Alaska Redistricting Board to defend the way it drew Senate Seat K-Eagle River/Muldoon, the board’s attorney Matt Singer was interrupted repeatedly by one of the justice on the Supreme Court panel — a justice who performed the duty of an opposing attorney.

Justice Warren Matthews, brought in from retirement to fill out the panel, filibustered attorney Singer by arguing with him for extended periods, burning up the 30-minute time and breaking up the ability of Singer to even complete a concept, to the point where it was obvious where Matthews stands on the matter of the Senate Seat K district map.

Justice Matthews made no such filibuster of the attorney for the citizens litigating against the boundaries, and other justices on the panel didn’t interrupt attorney Holly Wells, who argued that the Alaska Redistricting Board did not listen and take the advice of the many people in the public who testified against the pairings. Wells was able to complete her 30-minute briefing to the justices with only a few brief questions from the panel.

Justice Matthews, nearly 84 years old, is retired from the bench, but retired justices are frequently brought back to serve as needed, and in this case a couple of justices have recused themselves from this case due to conflicts of interest.

Redistricting challenges are not uncommon after the political boundaries are redrawn as a result of each U.S. Census. The redistricting process is a balancing of population, demographics, shared economic interests, and, in the end, is a political process. The challenge to the Senate Seat K-Eagle River/Muldoon boundaries are coming from partisan Democrats who are trying to reduce the influence of Republicans in the state. Those litigants include Yarrow Silver, a hard-left activist, and George Martinez, who has served in Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’ administration and who has run for mayor.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Alaska will be made a blue state, even if they have to disenfranchise tens (hundreds?) of thousands of voters in order to do it.

  2. I was never in favor of holding a convention but with the level of complete lawlessness being forwarded by the administration, the legislature and a almost completely corrupt court system, the people need a way of gaining control of government once again and perhaps the convention will provide that…

  3. There is a reason that Alaska law require a judge to retire at age 70. Retired judge Mathews’ performance in this case is a great example of why Alaska has that retirement mandate. The current Chief Justice appoints retired judges to help out as pro tem ( temporary ) judges from time to time. But generally not in complex cases that have far reaching impacts. And I cannot recall where an 84 year old was ever called in to serve in any capacity. Mathew’s participation and his abuse in this case, while somewhat predictable, is nevertheless unacceptable.

  4. The fact that a justice peppers an attorney with questions at oral argument is not a sign of political bias. Judges and justices commonly interrupt attorneys during oral arguments to ask them questions or challenge their statements. When a judge only questions one side during oral argument, that can be a sign that the judge is skeptical of the arguments that side has made in its briefing, but by asking those question, the judge is actually giving the attorney an opportunity to clarify his position and better explain his arguments. If the Justice doesn’t ask questions, the attorney won’t know that the judge has those questions and may not address them during their argument.

    The parties make their respective cases in the written briefs that are submitted before oral argument occurs. The oral argument is the time provided for judges to ask the attorneys questions about the positions they advocated in their legal briefs. Because the Redistricting Board was provided the opportunity to make its legal arguments in its written briefs, it is not correct that the questioning by Justice Matthews prevented the Board from making its case. Nor is it correct to characterize such questioning as filibustering, or to say that because Justice Matthews only asked questions of one side, he is biased.

    Appeals are rarely won based on oral arguments. They are typically decided based on the record developed in the trial court and the written briefs submitted by the parties.

    • this is obviously written by an attorney in favor of Warren’s gibberish.
      Why did old Warren keep his yap shut when Holly Wells gave her side??
      Because Warren is way past his prime and should have stayed home

      • You just want to believe that there is bias because Susanne said so or you want to believe you are a victim of a broken judiciary system. If you read the comment you replied to you would understand that judges question lawyers when they make questionable statements. Susanne calling out bias more often than not is only the expression of her own bias.

  5. Constitutional convention issues

    1-Judicial reform via electing them, term limiting them, making them subject to recall, giving the governor ability to appoint anyone he wants who meets established criteria.

    2-Move the capital in 4 years.

    3-Term limits for the legislature.

    4-Statutory PFD.

    5-120 limit on legislative sessions. Business not done is toast. No special sessions unless genuine emergency.
    Governor may call special session any damn place he wants.

    6-$200 a day per diem. No per diem for “technical sessions”.

    7-Reimbursement of stolen PFD money. With interest. Includes the eligible people who have since left Alaska due to official incompetence. Shouldn’t have to be on the constitution, but it’s the only way to make them pay what’s owed.

    8-Make all state workers at will. No unions for state employees.

    9-In person voting for all elections. Get rid of that ranked choice stupidity.

    • 10: Every 5th year a statewide question is put on the ballot. “Shall the legislature be dismissed” If a majority of all statewide voters vote yes the ENTIRE legislature is replaced. Dismissed legislators are ineligible to hold office for 10 years.

      Maybe we would see a bit more emphasis on getting something accomplished.

    • More likely the constitutional convention would install permanent mask wearing, wealth redistribution, and PFD theft. Imagine if the current Legislature were allowed to rewrite the constitution. It’s best not to open that Pandora’s Box

    • By law nothing is off the table during a Constitutional Convention.
      .
      Article 13, Section 4 of the Alaska Constitution states “Constitutional conventions shall have plenary power to amend or revise the constitution, subject only to ratification by the people. No call for a constitutional convention shall limit these powers of the convention.”

  6. And to be on the safe side.

    For the Constitution Convention

    A-No municipality may “lock down” for more than 30 days without approval from local Assembly and the Governor’s office.

    B-State and local governments may not indemnity themselves against lawsuits/damages resulting from unwarranted lock downs.

  7. Old geezer, rent-a-justice. He owes no duty, nor is he bound by the law. He’s a temp, with an Left-wing agenda to protect his buddies. Disgusting. And, with the judicial temperament he displays on the high bench, a complaint to the Bar Association is in order. Totally beyond the bounds of fairness.

  8. Who exactly brought in this retired judge, and what was the justification? I would think that it should go to a higher court with this kind of gerrymandering. I am not a lawyer, but I have a strong sense of smell, and this business stinks.

  9. One temporary member of the High Court stooped low. His one last chance to look like a fool………and he did.

  10. A retired judge, well into his senility, comes back and once again tries to wreak havoc on our constitution.

    It’s time to fix this unfortunate policy.

  11. Why would anyone ever expect fairness from such an old crank? This guy is 5 years older than our “let’s go Brandon” buddy but someone expects him to be reliably reliable?

    Not even close.

  12. Guy and gals here. Whereever this fight is coming from, the Redistricting Board did a bad job and messed up the Eagle River Chugiak house and senate districts. As a Republican in ER since forever, the board did not listen to ER residents in dividing up our area. They mangled us. They put Reinbold in with Wiellekowski’s Muldoon Senate seat to get rid of her. They carved out Merrick’s home address to make a Senate seat for her to run in without Reinbold. They divided up our district so that Eagle River is part of Muldoon!?! Really? So, the judge here is not giving the Board’s attorney any air, which is good. The Board messed up big time and should redo this district to be cohesive again. Thank you.

  13. Judicial activism is a cancer on our entire country. You can look at some of the recent decisions of the US Supreme Court for an example. They shot the first amendment in the back not siding with people in New York claiming religious exemptions against mandatory experimental gene therapies being injected in their bodies against their will. That means the U.S. Supreme Court is saying you do not have a right to work unless you allow Big Pharma to use you like a Guinea Pig. There is absolutely no legal argument for this as they violated folks constitutional rights.

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