State asks Alaska Supreme Court to reverse lower court ruling that axed correspondence study program


The State of Alaska filed its reply brief in its appeal of the Alaska Superior Court’s ruling in April, which found the correspondence study program unconstitutional and sent parents of students in such programs scrambling for answers.

In April, Judge Adolf Zeman ruled that the State of Alaska cannot reimburse parents for classes taken outside government schools.

The State has asked the Alaska Supreme Court to reverse the Superior Court ruling because it fails to properly apply the standard for holding that a statute is unconstitutional, the Department of Law wrote in a statement.

Striking down a duly enacted statute as unconstitutional is a serious and extraordinary exercise of the judicial power and a ruling of unconstitutionality frustrates the intent of the elected representatives of the people, the reply brief says.

Superior Court Judge Zemen has thrown the good out with the bad, the State argued. There are more refined tools—including a properly filed as-applied challenge—that allow courts to “avoid interfering with the lawmaking process any more than is necessary,” the brief says.

Further, Zeman’s ruling would render unconstitutional far more than just the student allotment program, and sweep into the unconstitutional category the millions of dollars that the State pays annually to private organizations like Amazon or Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for textbooks and other services and materials for brick-and-mortar schools, as well as numerous long-
uncontroversial public-private partnerships that work with the neighborhood schools.

Read the reply brief here. 

“The State’s briefing exposes the absurdity of the lower court’s decision,” said Alaska Deputy Attorney General Cori Mills“For decades, State money has been spent on correspondence schools using private vendors to ensure students who don’t (or can’t) attend a traditional neighborhood school still have access to a top-quality public education. The lower court’s decision upended that decades-long precedent, ignoring the vast majority of constitutional spending on educational materials and services purchased by parents to support their child’s public education.”

The State has teamed up with a non-profit legal organization, First Liberty, which reached out on the case offering legal support for free.

“The absurdity of the decision has garnered national attention, so much so that First Liberty, a non-profit legal organization, experienced in constitutional issues, reached out to the State to offer legal assistance on a pro bono basis. With the understanding that the State is firmly in the driver’s seat on what and how this case is argued, it seemed prudent to take the offer of free help from other legal experts,” the State wrote in a statement.

Oral argument is set for 10 a.m. June 27.


  1. Alaska State Constitution: Article VII Section 1: “Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control”….. That means the NEA, who brought this law suit is not allowed in our school system in any capacity. They had no “standing”. They are a “ sectarian” entity. The state Attorney General Treg Taylor must sue to remove the NEA from our schools. The people must demand this. What are we waiting for? Call him now People! Use your damn voice!

    • Absolutely accurate observation. The problem is the “state of Alaska” is completely in the control of the unions. The judges and head of public safety are appointed, not elected. They answer to the unions. We are the least sovereign and organized as the most socialist state in the union. Even the counting of ballots is accomplished by “state” union workers, voting out of this mess has been removed as an option. Total number of ballots are the key, the unions decide which ballots are counted as “votes”.

  2. The SOA of Alaska under Dunleavy’s command violated the Alaska Constitution, now he wants to spend more money to fight this ruling. How much has the SOA paid out over Dunleavy’s tenure as governor for violating the Alaska Constitution?

  3. The NEA is in fact in our schools. Many of the teachers are NEA members, they ARE the NEA. The NEA has great control over our schools. I stand by my above statement and Brian Simpson’s as well. The NEA must be removed from our schools. Speak up people!

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