By JOHN DANIEL DAVIDSON | THE FEDERALIST
The case of Alaska State Rep. David Eastman is bizarre and unprecedented, but it isn’t complicated. Put simply, left-wing activists are trying to trample the First Amendment and disenfranchise voters in Eastman’s district by asking a judge to rule him ineligible to hold office in the state.
Why? Because Eastman, 41, is a conservative. So are his constituents in Wasilla who recently elected him to a fourth term. If freedom of speech and association mean anything, Eastman should win his case easily. But the fact that he has to fight in court for the right to represent the people who elected him, and to clear his good name, is a testament to the relentless efforts of the left to criminalize the views of their political opponents and slander them as insurrectionists.
The details of Eastman’s ordeal almost defy belief. This week, a trial began in Anchorage to determine whether the Alaska lawmaker’s association with the Oath Keepers disqualifies him from holding office on the grounds that his alleged membership in the organization runs afoul of the Alaska constitution’s loyalty oath, which bars individuals from holding office if they belong to a group that “advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the United States or of a State,” or if they themselves advocate the same.
Editor’s note: Weather delayed the start of the trial on Monday, but it is expected to start Tuesday, Dec. 13.
A second part of the suit demands that the Alaska Division of Elections conduct assessments of every candidate’s loyalty to the Constitution so that voters will only be able to vote for candidates whose views have been officially approved by the state’s election bureaucracy.
Setting aside the outrageousness of allowing a state agency to vet the opinions of political candidates before their names can appear on the ballot, consider the gravity of what’s at stake in Eastman’s case: guilt by association. By his own admission, Eastman’s connection to Oath Keepers, a loosely organized group with some 38,000 members, is a “slight one.” He made a donation to the organization more than a dozen years ago and received a “lifetime membership” but never attended a meeting.
Read the rest of this report at The Federalist. John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere.