What Might Happen To A Justice Of The Alaska Supreme Court?

History has a way of repeating itself. Several years ago Alaska Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe was cruising along in her retention election. She served three terms as the court’s chief justice (2000–2003, 2006–2009, 2012–2015). She was the first woman appointed to the Alaska Supreme Court and the Alaska Supreme Court’s first female chief justice. Shortly before the election Lawn signs popped up to call for her defeat. Radio spots called for her defeat. Justice Fabe was opposed for retention by the private group CitizenLink, the public policy arm of the national Christian group Focus on the Family, weeks before the election. The group sought to have Alaskans vote against her retention. Fabe discussed this issue during the Evaluating Appellate Judges: Preserving Integrity, Maintaining Accountability conference (2011) Conference

Merit selection and retention elections were suppose to depoliticize state courts. It does not always work. The timing of the attack on Justice Fabe made raising money and then effectively spending it impossible. But she mounted a spited campaign quickly and was retained. Now it is happening again. “Christian, conservative groups organize to oust Supreme Court justice”: Nathaniel Herz of Alaska Public Media has a report that begins, “A coalition of conservative and religious leaders has launched a campaign to oust an Alaska Supreme Court justice whose rulings they oppose. The group, Alaskans for Judicial Reform, announced its campaign against Justice Susan Carney on Monday with a news conference in front of a downtown Anchorage courthouse.”

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