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Alaska Supreme Court Justice Susan Carney up for retention

Man sentenced for rape of 10-year-old
Man sentenced for rape of 10-year-old(AP images)
Published: Nov. 3, 2020 at 6:09 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - This year, all 22 judges on the ballot are recommended for retention by the nonpartisan Alaska Judicial Council, but one of them faced a campaign for their ouster by a group of conservative political leaders and abortion opponents.

The group, Alaskans for Judicial Reform, disagrees with Justice Susan Carney’s interpretation of the law on abortion, the state’s sex offender registry and the Permanent Fund Dividend and says that she overstepped the judiciary’s role in decisions she made on those issues.

Due to the apolitical nature of Alaska’s judicial selection and retention system, judges cannot campaign unless there is an organized effort to oust them.

After the campaign against Carney launched in early October, a group began advocating for Carney to retain her seat, noting her high rating from the nonpartisan Judicial Council and declaring that Carney’s judgment on laws enacted by the legislature is “precisely the role of our judicial branch of government.”

Carney was in the majority on a 3-2 ruling that part of the state’s Sexual Offender Registration Act violates due process rules. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled 4-1 on the abortion issue, and the decision related to the Permanent Fund dividend was unanimous, however, Carney is the only Alaska Supreme Court Justice up for retention during the November election.

This election marks the first time that Carney has come before the voters in a retention election since she was appointed to Alaska’s Supreme Court in 2016.

A judge needs a simple majority to retain the position.

Alaskans have only chosen once to unseat a judge who was recommended by the council for retention, that was in 2018 when voters chose to oust Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Corey for his role in a controversial and widely criticized plea deal.

Preliminary election results have been reported. The numbers will be updated here as results continue to come in.

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