Thursday, October 09, 2008

Payback Time: Alaska Supreme Court Justice Robert Eastaugh, Who Voted To Invalidate Parental Consent Abortion Law, Up For Retention

Update October 27th: Alaska Republican Party also urges Alaskans to reject Justice Robert Eastaugh, lists much more justification. Updated post HERE. In addition, on October 31st, the Juneau Empire printed a good letter to the editor from John Mielke of Skagway who also wants to reject Eastaugh.

On November 2nd, 2007, Alaska Supreme Court Justice Robert Eastaugh joined Chief Justice Dana Fabe and Justice Alexander Bryner in voting 3-2 to strike down Alaska's parental consent law, which was passed to ban teenagers from getting abortions without parental consent. The court decided that the consent requirement mandated in the Parental Consent Act of 1997 robs a pregnant teen of her so-called "constitutional right" to make such an important decision herself and transfers that right to her parents or a judge, although Chief Justice Fabe later conceded that a law merely requiring that a teenager inform her parents in advance before getting an abortion might pass judicial muster, since that's a standard used in other states.

Nonetheless, the decision was anti-family, as it further diluted parental authority and weakened parental control over kids. And on November 4th, 2008, Justice Robert Eastaugh's name is on the ballot, to determine if we want to keep him on the bench for another term.

We do NOT want to keep him on the bench for another term. Any judge who votes to weaken parental authority needs to be thrown off the bench. It's time for payback! All it takes is a simple majority - 50 +1 percent voting "No" - to get rid of him.

The Alaska Court System website explains the judicial retention process and provides a good overview on the workings of the Alaska court system. Each supreme court justice and each court of appeals judge is subject to approval or rejection by a majority of voters statewide on a nonpartisan ballot at the first general election held more than three years after appointment. Thereafter, each justice must participate in a retention election every ten years, each court of appeals judge must participate every eight years.

Each superior court judge is subject to approval or rejection by the voters in the judge's judicial district at the first general election held more than three years after appointment. Thereafter, the judge is subject to approval or rejection every sixth year. Each district court judge must run in a retention election in his or her judicial district at the first general election held more than two years after appointment, and then every fourth year thereafter. State laws that require judges to participate in retention elections do not apply to magistrates.

To aid voters in determining the suitability of judges to be retained, the Alaska Judicial Council provides ratings on all judges up for retention to assist voters in choosing. Attorneys, peace officers, court employees, jurors, and social workers provide separate ratings on a sliding scale, with 5 excellent down to 1. Each link below takes you directly to the judge's individual rating; it's a multi-page PDF document.

Detailed 24-page breakdown on Justice Eastaugh HERE. Categorical ratings as follows:

Attorney Ratings:

- Legal Ability: 4.5
- Impartiality: 4.4
- Integrity: 4.6
- Temperament: 4.5
- Diligence: 4.5
- OVERALL: 4.5

Court Employee Ratings:

- Impartiality: 4.6
- Integrity: 4.7
- Temperament: 4.2
- Diligence: 4.6
- OVERALL: 4.5

You can see that he has good ratings. But we have too many judges in this country who make the laws rather than interpret the laws. They legislate from the bench. I call it "judicial terrorism". And the only way to slow it down and ultimately stop it is to make it costly. Judges who legislate from the bench are worthy of removal, regardless of their other ratings. Robert Eastaugh has got to go!

Here are the other Alaska judges up for retention in 2008. The Alaska Judicial Council has recommended a "Yes" vote on all judges EXCEPT for Dennis Cummings. Click on their names to go to their ratings pages.

Robert G. Coats, Court of Appeals

Patricia A. Collins, First Superior Court, Juneau

Dennis P. Cummings, Fourth District Court, Bethel
NOTE: This judge not recommended for retention by the Alaska Judicial Council. Two Anchorage Daily News stories, HERE and HERE, provide more background.

Robert B. Downes, Fourth Superior Court, Fairbanks

Raymond Funk, Fourth District Court, Fairbanks

Pat Hanley, Third District Court, Anchorage

Keith B. Levy, First District Court, Juneau

Margaret L. Murphy, Third District Court, Homer

Daniel Schally, Third District Court, Valdez

Craig F. Stowers , Third Superior Court, Anchorage

Alex M. Swiderski, Third District Court, Anchorage