Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alaska Family Council Joins The Growing Opposition To The Retention Of Anchorage Superior Court Judge Sen Tan

Alaskans opposed to the retention of Superior Court Judge Sen Tan picked up a powerful ally when the Alaska Family Council sent out an e-mail to supporters during the weekend of October 13-14, 2012 calling on voters in the Third Judicial District to vote against retaining Judge Tan for another six years. This follows closely in the wake of former U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller's October 14th call for Tan's rejection. I published my own recommendation against Judge Tan's retention back on September 9th, which contains a detailed explanation of my objections. Only voters living within the Third Judicial District, which encompasses Anchorage, Mat-Su, the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak, Prince William Sound and Bristol Bay Communities, will see Sen Tan's name on their ballots.

Like Miller and I, the Alaska Family Council also takes issue with his two controversial rulings against parental consent for a minor's abortion and in favor of public funding of abortions. Jim Minnery also told KTVA Channel 11, "Most people in the state of Alaska don't understand, in our view, that the state constitution was crafted in such a way that the people have the right to vote on these public servants, which they are, as judges, based on whatever reason they want". Minnery said his issue with Judge Tan is judicial, not personal.

Judges face some restraints not applicable to other political candidates. They can defend themselves only once there's active opposition to them, and even then they are limited in what they can say. This may explain why Judge Tan refused any media requests for comment.

Analysis: Judge Tan most likely will be retained, since the Alaska Family Council waited a bit too long to take a public stand against him. But it will adversely affect the percentage of Yes votes he receives; in 2010, when the Council recommended a No vote against Alaska Supreme Court Justice Dan Fabe, she received only a 54 percent Yes vote, in contrast to the 60-70 percent totals received by other judges. In 2006, when the Council previously recommended a No vote against Sen Tan, it had a negligible effect; Tan received a 59 percent Yes vote vs. 60-65 percent by other judges.

Nevertheless, it's important to send these judges a public message that if they choose to make the law rather than confine themselves to interpreting it, they won't find it so easy to rubber-stamp their way to another six-year term.

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