Judges go rogue, showing why we need judicial reform



Alaskans are scratching their heads at Superior Court Judge Dani Crosby’s ruling that says absentee ballots do not need to have a witness signature on them this year.

Crosby said it’s an undue burden for people to have to have a witness on their ballot. The requirement is not that someone watches who you vote for, but simply signs to acknowledge that they know you and that you are the one who voted this ballot. Crosby says that because of the pandemic, it’s just too much to ask.

This ruling is an example of judicial activism, also called “legislating from the bench.”

The case was brought by Arctic Village Council and the League of Women Voters, both heavily dominated by Democrats and liberal allies. The plaintiffs said that some Alaskans will find it too difficult to get a witness and thus would be robbed of their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.

Earlier this year, the Alaska Supreme Court validated Ballot Measure 2, an effort to upend Alaska’s tried-and-true election system. The justices said that the 25-page multi-dimensional upheaval of election and campaign laws did not violate the statutory “single subject rule” for ballot initiatives. After all, the subject was “elections,” the justices said.

Critics of rulings like these wonder why Alaskans even need a legislative and executive branch, when governing is now being done by judges.

These two examples demonstrate why Alaska needs a complete overhaul to how judges are appointed. Right now, it’s all in the hands of the Alaska Bar Association and the Judicial Council, both liberal bodies. The Judicial Council offers three names to the governor, and the governor must pick from them.

In other words, unelected lawyers pick the judges for Alaskans. The people have absolutely no say through their elected governor.

Will Gov. Mike Dunleavy appeal Crosby’s ruling? It’s doubtful, and maybe he should not. After all, the 2020 election is already underway and having a court case during the election could have unforeseen consequences, should any of the races end up in court (a high probability with close races).

Indeed, ballots have already been sent out to nearly 100,000 voters who opted for absentee or overseas vote-by-mail ballots.

The best thing for Dunleavy to do is to leave this as “unsettled law,” and let this Superior Court ruling hang in limbo.

The Division of Elections, which is not under his authority, needs to be able to move forward with certainty and provide voters with definitive answers on how to handle their absentee ballots.

But to be clear, the Crosby decision puts the integrity of the elections in grave doubt. Already, the campaign of Al Gross is going door-to-door in Anchorage, asking people if they plan to vote for Al Gross, and if they are, providing them with an absentee ballot application.

Voter fraud is now — thanks to our court system — almost a certainty.

There is probably not time to fix it for this round, but the best fix voters can provide is to vote no on the retention of judges on Nov. 3, and send a message to the judiciary.

The best thing the governor can do is to begin working on a constitutional amendment to reform how judges acquire so much power in our state by bypassing the people, and putting the power of governing into the hands of unelected lawyers.


  1. Vote NO on every judge up for retention this year. It is about time we the people show these activist Judges we will not put up with legislating from the bench.

    • Voting no on every judge isn’t right, either. There are some judges who do their jobs well. I’d hate to get rid of judges that do.

      • Mandy, do you have a good source for someone to check out about the judges on the ballot? I want to make my vote count but have NO CLUE on the judges! I had no idea there were so many on the ballot, and I don’t have time for researching that many now!

    • But then you are ousting all Dunleavy, Parnell and Murkowski appointments. What would be the point of that?

      • This issue has nothing to do with politics, as the writer of this piece infers. It’s about the People having more of asay in the judicial system, instead of lawyers!

  2. There’s stories in The Book of Mormon (another Testament of Jesus Christ) about corrupt judges and their like. The people had no say and much to the demise of the people back then, they were torn asunder by upheaval and dissent because they could no longer live under the heavy-handed laws that were placed upon them by the corrupt judges. Even with prophets expounding the coming of the Lord, the people soon perished because of wars among themselves; much because of distrust of the leaders, which were the judges who had become self-serving and not acting in the people’s interest.
    I’m not advocating that The Book of Mormon is a perfect example of when judges go bad, but it highlights the fact that even back in those days (600BC ~ 400AD) judges and ruling class elites did not always judge righteously. It looks like Alaska’s state government could be on course to something akin to what I’ve read and know to be true from the Book of Mormon.

  3. Can’t disagree with the overall concern, but in fairness to Judge Crosby, any hint of “voter suppression” will get Fed attention and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Suspect if she’d ruled the other way, the appellate wheels would already be spinning up.

    One wonders why the Sullivan and/or Young campaigns aren’t doing the same door to door work?

    Voting “NO” on any retention of a judge is a good start, but probably more important would be to work hard to elect assembly persons and representatives and senators from the lawyer-heavy areas (e.g. downtown and Turnagain in Anchorage) who want a better system and will support the Governor in an effort to amend the judiciary selection process.

  4. Adding to the matter, yesterday:

    “The US Supreme Court stayed a lower court decision Monday that prevented South Carolina from enforcing its witness requirement on mail-in ballots. This means that mail-in ballots received in South Carolina must include a witness signature in order to be counted. However, by a 5-3 vote, the court also ruled that any ballots received prior to its order, and up to two days after the order, should still be accepted even without the witness signature.”.


    While the US Supremes have not ruled on the merits, the suggestion is that they do not believe that the pandemic justifies discarding the witness requirement. Now Judge Crosby and the Alaska Supremes may simply declare that they are smarter and more enlightened than the US Supremes but it makes for a more interesting discussion.

  5. I do not understand why this ruling should be left as “unsettled Law”. Alaskan residents have left too many important decisions left hanging and end up loosing in the end simply because of letting time pass. This election is a very Important election and a lot of life changes hang in the balance. To not challenge the ruling is in essence accepting it. And since this ruling does put the integrity of the elections in grave doubt, it needs to be addressed/challenged now, Not after the elections when all hell is going to break loose. The Lt Gov already stated that this should not happen and should take the proper steps to back the wishes of the Alaskan voters. Not to mention that the US Supreme Court also agrees.

  6. This is good info to know, and I will vote no on any judge put forward for renewal on Nov 3rd based on this info.

    • So you’re voting No on all judges, just because Ms. Downing has pitched a hit piece based on partial information aimed at a single judge? Do you even know what not having to have a witness on your ballot is about?

  7. Call your legislator and demand they petition the Supreme Court to put a stay on election changes that were formulated by Courts rather than legislation. Supreme Court has already done it in South Carolina and looks poised to do so in Pennsylvania very soon. The Supreme Court is moving quickly on these cases.

    Get on the horn, my fellow Americans! Call your legislators ASAP!

  8. Fight it. Now is not the time to roll over, especially in light of the recent SCOTUS ruling regarding South Carolina absentee voting.

  9. SCOTUS has already ruled on this matter. It is reasonable to have a witness requirement for a mail in ballot. Judge Crosby is incompetent, or worse, acting as an activist from the bench.

    • ??? That case has nothing to do with this! That was federal courts overruling state courts. Judge Crosby is a state judge and this is a state issue.

  10. Most of the Nov 3 ballot is on Judges and we have a hard time getting information on them. Can you help us please? Thank you.

  11. So the Alaska Supreme Court has overruled the Supreme Court of the United States. If I were the Lt. Governor or the Division of Elections I think I would go with the higher court.

    • As the state’s rights kind of guy you appear to be, I would think that you would like state supreme court overriding the Federal Supreme Court. But in this case, this is not what is happening at all. Were do you get these ideas?

  12. I find it incredible that judges can continue to rule AGAINST the constitution without any recourse from the population. This is the very worst thing that can happen in our Republic, for judges to make decisions based on their personal opinion with no legal or constitutional basis.

    • Incredible. So wrong in so many ways. This has nothing to do with our Constitution. This election is recourse from the population. We don’t live in a Republic, although the Republican party would like to reduce it to that. And this article doesn’t give you enough information to conclude that there’s no legal basis here.

  13. Maybe voting to non-retain all judges goes too far; how about we just focus on getting rid of activist judges like Ms. Crosby?

  14. I do not understand why you think providing someone with an absentee ballot application is akin to fraud. If you want to win elections, convince people your side has the best argument. Don’t try to suppress people from voting. It is literally the most fundamental right that we, as Americans, have.

    Also, the Bar Association as a “liberal entity”… wtf? You do know that it includes members of the Federalist Society right? The same Federalist Society that boasts every single conservative Supreme Court Justice appointed since the H.W. Bush administration. I’m reaching out to my fellow libertarians here: please do not fall into the trap of making the term “liberal” a slur thrown at any group of informed and educated experts. If we keep it up, people will start to believe there’s nobody on our side who knows what they’re talking about.

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