New study shows Democrats dominate Alaska Bar Assn. - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, February 25, 2020
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New study shows Democrats dominate Alaska Bar Assn.

PATH TO JUDGESHIPS RUNS THROUGH LIBERAL TRADE ASSOCIATION

The Alaska Family Council has released a study that reveals the political leanings of members of the Alaska Bar Association, which is the professional organization that has an oversized role in the choosing of Alaska’s judges.

According to the report just released by the organization, of all ABA members, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a wide margin – 27.48% to 15.85%. 

“That’s polar opposite of voters in Alaska, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by nearly 2-to-1 (24.25% to 12.83%),” said Jim Minnery, president of the conservative values-oriented organization.

“When liberals have the power to select our judges, the public is stuck with the decisions of liberal judges,” he said.

The report comes two days before Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger delivers his annual “State of the Judiciary” address to a joint session of the Legislature.

Minnery wrote that Justice Bolger may brush off his talking points from remarks he gave to October’s Alaska Federation of Natives convention, where he warned about “attacks on judicial independence.”

“That would be ironic, because for decades, activist judges in Alaska have waged a war against the legislative and executive branches of government. In case after case, these lawyers in black robes have trampled on the constitutional authority of lawmakers who obtain consent to govern us by winning an election,” Minnery said.

Alaska lawyers rise to the bench after being nominated by the Alaska Judicial Council, whose membership is made up of a majority of bar association members. As a part of the Judicial Council’s vetting process, members of the bar are asked to offer their opinion of the applicants.

“Not surprisingly, there’s a long track record of conservative lawyers receiving lousy scores on the Bar survey,” Minnery noted.

Not all lawyers are associated with a party, but for typically Undeclareds vote more conservatively and nonpartisans vote for more liberal candidates.

Nonpartisan voters make up 14.45 percent of the electorate in Alaska, but make up over 24 percent of attorneys.

Read the Alaska Family Council report at this link.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Didn’t one of the Founding Fathers state that attorneys should not be legislators? It’s really not all that difficult to project that those who make the laws will have an inside track on dealing with them and their effects.

    In much of contract law, we see the concept of arms-length transactions. It seems like attorneys picking judges would fall under that notion.

    I think we’ve turned the henhouse over to the foxes.

    • You don’t have to have a very high opinion of attorneys do you? I wonder why that is? Who would you turn to if you need to file some sort of civil case? Or represent you in a court of law? Not all attorneys are the ones being employed by drug dealers and shady pharmaceutical companies. Chandler prosecutors and public defenders trying to put the bad guys in prison and keep the innocent ones out. Before you lump everyone in one basket perhaps you should judge each of them individually.

  • So, we want religious fanatics controlling the courts? That is exactly what Minnery is.

    • I don’t want religious fanatics or liberal fanatics, I want people who will serve as neutral arbiters, who will rule based upon the laws and the constitution of our state and our country. Hopefully you want the same and not just people who agree with you.

    • Nice straw-ad hom. I want my actual elected officials, whose job it is to express the will of the people via appointment and confirmation, to be able to select whoever they feel is qualified. Allowing a private guild to control who can be considered by our elected representatives is anti-democratic.

      What other union should dictate who can be appointed?

  • Most law school are liberal. Conservative lawyers do make it to the bench.

  • Whenever a judge or attorney enters practice it is required for them to join the Alaska Bar Association, which causes them to lose independence, which is the number one requirement for making independent decisions. Very few will admit this though.

    This is the old Star Chamber of ancient times.

    The Alaska Bar Association is a member of the American Bar Association, of New York. They in turn are a member of the International Bar Association from Europe. Brussels and London.

    The Alaska Court System is more like a division of Health & Human Services instead of the Judicial Branch. There once was a pamphlet in all Alaska courthouses, which I still have several copies of today. It stated one of their requirements was “To Give the Appearance of Justice”. Just appearance of, instead of real justice. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

    • Well you are way off as usual. No matter what bar association in what state attorneys are sworn into, the only thing that governs them is the United States Constitution. You should know that c more. He really stepped in it this time.

      • It is exactly what I said. The Alaska Bar Association sits outside the Constitution. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

        • You are correct; I had an attorney tell me just that, and that when the Alaska Constitution was written, all these protections for the Bar were placed in there.

          In a true government by, for, and of the people, the “Judicial Council” would be ordinary civic-minded citizens.

  • 27% to 16% is “dominates? ” Looks to me that like most of Alaska our Judicial Branch is, as you stated, nonpartisan or undeclared. This headline is a real stretch.

  • The Alaska Judicial Council’s make up should consist of a majority of layman from the general public with a bipartisan minority of attorneys. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse!

    • The problem is, you would then have people making law and upholding law that don’t know the law. These things are best left to the professionals.

      • Making law and enforcing law? The unelected and unaccountable Judicial Council deals with appointments they do neither of the former.

        The elected Legislature makes law reflecting the will of the electorate and the elected Governor enforces the law with accountability to that electorate. Judges interpret the law and are appointed and confirmed by the latter two branches of government. The unelected, unaccountable Judicial Council should be allowed to give their “expert” opinion on potential judicial appointees, but they should not have any say in limiting the governor’s choices thereof. Therein lies the problem, their “expert” opinion is not free of political taint.

      • Exactly like tribal court. Total joke. Tribal court is an insult to intelligent people.

    • There are still some of us conservative lawyers who know how to make a difference. And we do, but less vocally than the liberal attorneys. The profession assumes a political correctness standard among attorneys, which forces some caution by my right-leaning colleagues. I’ve always wondered if Suzanne used to be an attorney, or has a law degree?

  • I’m not seeing a significant news story here. I am seeing misleading information and inaccuracies. According to the attached polling information, the vast majority of Bar members are Undeclared or Nonpartisan – 56%. That stat is similar to the percentage of Undeclared and Nonpartisans within all Alaskan registered voters. And, the statement that Undeclareds typically vote more conservatively and Nonpartisans vote on a more liberal basis – hmmmm – is there data to back that statement up? The article states that the Alaska Judicial Council make up is a majority of Bar Association members. The Council consists of three non-attorneys, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislature and three attorneys, appointed by the board of governors of the Alaska Bar Association. Council members serve staggered terms. The chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court chairs the Council ex-officio and votes in rare instances, for example, in tie votes. From 1984, Alaska’s Supreme Court chief justices have voted 5% of the time.

  • If justices of whatever party would just adjudicate instead of legislate, we would all be better off. Unfortunately, when one party’s ideological pillars, are the acquisition of power for powers sake, and the priority of the “state” over the individual, then the lines are often crossed as they feel entitled to remake law to fit their agenda “for the greater good”. Respectfully, We don’t need that. We need all laws upheld, even poorly constructed ones, as long as they don’t violate the constitution, and then the people can the acknowledge their deficiencies and vote in legislators to change or abolish the law.. Some of that happens on either side of the aisle, to be sure, but it’s more rampant in one over the other because those who value the Individual over the state, tend to side with the constitution; it’s purpose is to protect the individual and limit the power of government. Those things are typically counter to the doctrine of the left, or at least they have become so, considerably so, in recent times.

  • If you check, I think the Rules of Court supercede the Statutes any more. If so, what does that tell everyone about who really writes the so-called Law?? The B.A.R or the Legislators?? Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  • This is why the Alaska Court System in its present form is a total disaster. Governor Dunleavy should call for the resignation of all sitting judges/justices and re-appoint real replacements who are in compliance with the Alaska Constitution and AS 39.05.035 oaths. Return the courts to the people with independent judges who have the correct oath of office as public officer(s) and hold a bond in case they injure anyone.

  • Alaska Court Rules.
    Rules of Civil Procedure.
    Rule 93. Legal Effect of Rules—-Statutes Superseded.
    Rule 94. Relaxation of Rules.
    This is very convenient, because they can go either way depending on the issue.
    Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

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