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.