Judge Jack McKenna’s rogue ruling on political eligibility is now Exhibit A for a constitutional convention



How does one explain Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jack McKenna’s outlandish decision against Rep. David Eastman, saying he may not be sworn in until the court decides whether he is sufficiently politically acceptable to the Judiciary?

McKenna is not stupid. He knows that, regardless of what one thinks of Rep. Eastman, the Oath Keepers or their role in Jan. 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol, Eastman is an American citizen, entitled to the protections of the United States Constitution, including the rights of free speech and association. McKenna also knows that if the Alaska Court System attempts to prevent Eastman from taking office, the decision will be reversed in federal court because of constitutional protections of the First Amendment.

McKenna is not attempting to damage Eastman politically.  He knows he’ll be reelected on Nov. 8. If this ruling has any effect on that election, it will help Eastman in his Wasilla district. So what’s the point?

By this ruling, which has made national headlines, McKenna inserted himself into the ongoing political campaign to discredit the Republican Party by associating it with the events of Jan. 6, and, by implication, with former President Donald Trump.  

McKenna is not acting as a judge. He is assuming the role of a calculating political operative. He knows that if the election of 2022 is about President Joe Biden and his record, the Democrats will lose. If instead it’s about Trump, and Jan. 6, Democrats can win. 

Legally, McKenna’s ruling is inexplicable. Politically, it makes perfect sense.

So how can Gov. Mike Dunleavy justify his elevation of McKenna to the Superior Court bench? Alaska’s Constitution vests in him, as governor of Alaska, the power of judicial appointments. 

As Dunleavy has painfully learned in the past four years, this power is illusory. Judicial appointments can only be made of candidates who have been approved by the Alaska Judicial Council, which is controlled by the three members appointed by the Alaska Bar Association. They, along with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, have a majority on the council. They refuse to approve any judicial candidate who does not share their judicial activist philosophy. As a result, Alaska’s judiciary is entirely dominated by ideological soul mates. 

The Alaska Supreme Court and Superior Courts are partisan, imperial, and unaccountable. They have been for over 40 years. It doesn’t matter who the people elect as their governor. It’s out of his hands as the judiciary is controlled by the lawyers.

In the case of McKenna, he was the least objectionable of the candidates Dunleavy was forced to choose from. One can only  imagine how bad the other choices were. Until this system is changed, Alaskans can expect more Jack McKennas, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

Unless, of course, Alaska’s Constitution is amended, and the Alaska Bar Association’s control of the Judicial Council is eliminated. In the Alaska Legislature, numerous efforts have been made over the years to propose such an amendment. But it’s been proven politically impossible to achieve the needed two-thirds supermajority required. The politicians in black robes who populate our judiciary have enough political allies in the Legislature to prevent passage of such an amendment.

So what can be done?  Fortunately, there is a solution in Article XIII, Section 3 of Alaska’s Constitution. It calls for a referendum, every 10 years, on the question of calling a constitutional convention.  This year, on Nov. 8, Alaskans can vote for Ballot Measure 1, calling a convention.  If it passes, delegates to the convention may, by majority vote, propose an amendment which would put an end to this judicial tyranny. If subsequently approved by the people, Alaska’s lawyers would no longer control the judiciary.

A grass roots campaign is being conducted on behalf of Prop 1 by ConventionYES.  It’s are focused on putting the Permanent Fund Dividend formula into the Alaska Constitution, taking that power away from the Legislature. Such an amendment can only be proposed by a convention. Ballot Measure 1 will rise or fall on the question of the dividend, and its future.

But an unavoidable subsidiary issue is judicial reform, which likewise will only be proposed by a convention. If you are outraged by the political  antics of Judge McKenna, you should not only vote yes on Ballot Measure 1, you should join the effort of ConventionYES. It will succeed if it can get its message heard. Fortunately for proponents of Ballot Measure 1, Judge McKenna has just illustrated clearly why voters should choose hope over the fear that opponents of the measure are trafficking. Judge McKenna is Exhibit A for why someone would want to vote “yes” on Ballot Measure 1 on Nov. 8.

Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska.


  1. Granted, Eastman has constitutional rights, but you certainly won’t hear me lauding him for “acting like a man” only when he’s mobbed up with his ilk! Granted, Eastman has constitutional rights, but you certainly won’t hear me lauding him for “acting like a man” only when he’s mobbed up with his ilk!

    Suzanne, you won’t see me waving the federal constitution in defense of “representative” Eastman. Granted, he has constitutional rights, but you certainly won’t hear me lauding him for “acting like a man” only when he’s mobbed up with his ilk!

    The American Civil Liberties Union might join you in defending the whimp. Strange things do occur!

      • Perhaps… What I see is an opinionated coward – and in this case, a rather misinformed coward. Try speaking with David Eastman – he really is a good representative – at least he has the chutzpah to stand up to the left.

      • Sweetie, I do my best to cross my eyes and dot my tees. Be more charitable, but only if you’re Christian enough and can spare a good word!??

      • Naomi, I’m sure you’re bright enough to realize that the “sweetie” comment below is just for you.

  2. If the only issue a Constitutional Convention accomplished was judicial reform it would be well worth the time and money involved!

  3. We desperately need a constitutional convention, but most people are too scared to support it.

    Great things require great risk. Alaskans as a whole are scared to be great.

    We have the government we deserve.

  4. “……McKenna inserted himself into the ongoing political campaign to discredit the Republican Party by associating it with the events of Jan. 6, and, by implication, with former President Donald Trump…….”
    I believe it is mostly a legal attack on Oath Keepers, ultimately to outlaw the legal existence of the group. I agree that this will likely land in federal court. How it fares there is, like all things judiciary, up for grabs.

  5. I have to disagree. Actually Judge McKenna IS stupid. Judges have reputations to protect. Getting reversed by higher courts is akin to being publicly scolded and put into the corner by a supervising adult. The judge gets to wear a dunce hat in front of his peers, who snicker among themselves. It’s sort of like the humiliation in law school when a law student opens his or her mouth and says something stupid in front of everyone, and then the professor gets to further the humiliation by calling it stupid. But it can actually get worse for a stupid judge. A stupid judge is one who opines by showing off his or her political activism, while hoping to take kudos from one political party or a like-minded group of peers. The opposing political party sees a cheerleader on the bench who is dressed in skimpy briefs beneath the black robe. A feckless, small person who basically has little judicial intellect and probably has few friends. Being a judge is a lonely place to be. So lonely, in fact, that an activist judge will hope to get some cocktail-hour recognition for the cowardly decision that he made. But even his peers in black robes and lawyers suits know that the judge is nothing more than a midget looking for any fleeting opportunity to gain a bit of recognition for signing his name on a piece of judicial paper. It’s the only attention that they ever get and it makes them feel like they wear Armani cloth under their robe. Yes, stupidity often rises on the bench.

    • True comments, ChrissyB. Judges eat by themselves, or with other judges. Mostly, they only get respect by suck*ss lawyers who need them in their pockets to win a case. But as a true friend, a confident, or a buddy? Forget it! Judges live lonely lives and never really know who their friends are. Not even by their own clerks who write their opinions and their orders for them. A political activist judge like McKenna is being cute for the Left, hoping to make a few new friends one day.

      • McKenna has no real friends, because EVERYONE knows he has used a courtroom as a political barking booth. Even those on the extreme left would say McKenna is not an independent thinking jurist, but rather a parrot trained to perform in a circus act. It’s obvious.

      • Jose’,
        Suck*ss lawyers do not respect judges. They look at them as courtroom instruments to be manipulated, or influenced through their legal clerks in the briefings. There are many lazy judges who rely primarily on their legal clerks to think and write opinions for them. And many of these legal clerks are greenhorns with little life experience and platefulls of leftist brainwashing.
        The suck*ass lawyers probably knew the judges prior to their bench appointments. Feckless judges care not to rule against prestigeous law firms, but rather, they would rule in their favor. When reversed by the higher court, these same feckless judges blame it on intellectual dishonesty or some perversion in the law. It’s never their fault.
        Judges should always be elected and retention votes by the public should occur every two years. That way, these judges will face public outcry and will be campaigned against like any other elected official.
        Otherwise, the system becomes and stays corrupted.

  6. Greeeat… Hold a Constitutional convention and open up pandora’s box. Are you people like stuck on stupid…?

  7. The whole peer pressure fear angle doesn’t work on thinking adults. Sure it will work on those who will already bite on the bad people agree with this and because bad people agree with this you should disagree…also known as useful idiots, but informed adults base their decisions on actual information.

    Plenary power, as in the Alaska Constitution Article XIII section 4 says “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.”

    I will probably vote for a con-con, but not because of fear based peer pressure or because ANYONE that is pro con-con has made a well reasoned case for a con-con (other than Senator Shower), but because I actually believe that in a constitutional republic we should do our part from time to time just to upset the apple cart.

    As my favorite part of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence says, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

  8. As I understand it, the Alaska Supreme Court approved of the legislature literally stealing the PFD money that legally belongs to the citizens of Alaska. We must do something to change the system of selection.

  9. Suzanne, this in my opinion is one of your best commentaries and I fully agree! Alaskan’s must protect the Constitution from activist judges. We need judges that interpret law, not legislate from the bench as oligarchs!

  10. It just doesn’t seem right that some random judge can inflict his bias into the election. In a perfect world, the higher court would immediately step in and shut him down. But, this is Alaska, so…
    Watch him stall his final ruling until as close as possible to election day. That way, he gets to hold the limelight as long as possible and garner tons of virtue points.

  11. The treatment of Eastman is not correct. I would assume the Alaskan Supreme Court would differ from this judge. Totally against a Constitutional Convention. The PFD issue is about leadership. If you want to cut the budget, cut it and tell us what you are going to cut. Huge increases in salaries of the Governor Office and legislative branch increasing their pay is not the fault of our Constitution. Open a can of worms and you get Kurka, Eastman, and Kaufman causing every family of four being short changed 8,000. Not the fault of the Constitution. Fault of lazy politicians. Keily getting $36,000 more then the previous administrator is not small government. Please tell me what her husband did for the Governor and the Mayor. Not a Constitutional problem a leadership problem.

  12. End the Third “Judicial” District and give The People back their courts; The charade of ‘justice’ Alaskans have witnessed is Exhibit A of why we need Independent Judges to replace the fake ones dependent upon the Alaska Bar Association.

  13. I thought we had memorial day to remember our fallen soldiers and militias? Eastman HARDLY looks like a threat to anyone’s personal safety ?

  14. Since when does admiring an organization nullify being duly elected-is our state judicial system deciding it can wipe out our legislative system with judicial prejudice? Maybe we should start electing judges?

  15. Like the Stalin show trials which could make anyone look guilty, the Eastman/Oath Keeper demonization is based on the Leftist narrative being parroted endlessly until it becomes Accepted Truth. If you look at the Oath Keeper statement of purpose, you will never find anything that it is accused of, but exactly the opposite. It is the Deep State, FBI, Leftist media that is trying to overthrow the gov’t, ala the “Summer of Love” and stolen elections.

    Eastman joined online over a decade ago before he was a legislator after reading the principles, never attended a meeting or created a local cell. Let’s pretend that the Oath Keepers were surreptitiously created to gain money from unsuspecting suckers for the imaginary purpose that the Left has concocted. How does that make HIM guilty? If the leader of Oath Keepers became a rapist, bank robber or snake oil salesman, how does that make HIM guilty? We are dealing with childish minds everywhere: from Leftist journalists, Leftist judges, Leftist politicians and dumbed-down citizens.

  16. Unfortunately, McKenna is not up for retention until 2026. He’s got a few more years to screw things up with political-leaning decisions. It makes me wonder how HE ended up assigned to this case. It is supposed to be random but makes one wonder if the Clerk’s office magically assigned this case to him.

  17. This is an interesting twist for the Judget to consider:

    BREAKING: The DOJ has just admitted federal informants were employed in the Oathkeepers investigation and they can be called to testify at trial under the 6th Amendment

  18. ~Preamble~
    We the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land, in order to secure and transmit to succeeding generations our heritage of political, civil, and religious liberty within the Union of States, do ordain and establish this constitution for the State of Alaska.
    Based on the examples we have witnessed recently in all levels of our federal, state and local representation by those who were voted into office by the same people who would then select our con-con representatives, can we really believe that the resulting discussions could even move past agreement on this most humble beginning to our constitution as it stands? Are they grateful to God? To our founders? Do they want to secure our political, civil, and religious liberty? Doesn’t appear so. How much change do we need? Have we shuffled around in the toolbox to make sure we are using the right tool for the job?
    Perhaps we could get some guidance from Article IV section 10: Commission on Judicial Conduct – The commission on Judicial Conduct shall consist of nine members, as follows: three persons who are justices or judges of state courts, elected by the justices and judges of state courts; three members who have practiced law in this state for ten years, appointed by the governor from nominations made by the governing body of the the organized bar and subject to confirmation by a majority of the members of the legislature in joint session; and three persons who are not judges, retired judges, or members of the state bar, appointed by the governor and subject to confirmation by a majority of the members of the legislature in joint session. In addition to being subject to impeachment under section 12 of this article, a justice or judge may be dis-qualified from acting as such and may be suspended, removed from office, retired, or censured by the supreme court upon the recommendation of the commission. The powers and duties of the commission and the bases for judicial disqualification shall be established by law.
    I’m no lawyer, but this Commission looks to have much more power given to it by the governor, the legislature, and the People than the Judicial Council has, and acts as a check/balance when Judges get too big for their britches. OH, and since chances are slim that we would have a con-con-con (conservative constitutional convention), I’m still a NAY vote on that one.

  19. In order to advertise a convention yes vote we need to find money from groups that could benefit. Like sports fishing groups, they would benefit if we had a sports over commercial amendment. Retailers would benefit from a PFD amendment. Oil companies could benefit from a tax cap amendment.

    We need money from these and more groups that would benefit in order to fight the millions being spent by the No Convention swamp people.

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