Minnery at It Again: Alaska Justices Are Just Fine

Jim Minnery, Chief Theocrat for the seriously mis-named Alaska Family Action, is at it again, writing opinion pieces attacking Alaska Supreme Court Justices because they don’t adhere to his narrow, Christianist demands. This time it’s an ill-informed, irrational and completely unfounded attack on Justice Joel Bolger and Justice Peter Maassen.

While he tries to disguise it, this is all about abortion. The Alaska Supreme Court has held, on at least four occasions, that the right of a parent to be notified when their child seeks medical treatment, including an abortion, is limited by the Alaska Constitution. There are two constitutional principles involved: equal protection and Alaska’s unique privacy amendment. No law, not even a citizen initiative like 2010’s Parental Notification Law, can violate those constitutional requirements.

That Alaska Supreme Court, in a case on a similar law in 2007, held “that a parental notification law might be implemented without unduly interfering with minors’ fundamental privacy rights.” A properly drafted law, when legislation or citizen initiative, that offered justifications for the limits on minors’ constitutional rights that were closely linked the limits on minors’ right, might pass muster. What the Alaska Supreme Court found was that the excuses offered for limiting minors rights didn’t justify the 48 hours notice requirement

The constitutional problem is pretty simple: pregnant minors seeking to carry to term don’t need to notify their parents; only minors seeking an abortion have to wait 48 hours. There has to be a very sound reason to treat the two situations differently. Jim Minnery’s dislike for abortion isn’t any kind of justification. The court said,

But a statute infringing on a constitutionally protected right deserves close attention. And our duty to uphold the Alaska Constitution is paramount; it takes precedence over the politics of the day and our own personal preferences.

What the court found is that the justifications – excuses, really – for the different treatment didn’t justify the different treatment. It might be possible to write a law with reasons for disparate treatment of the two kinds of pregnant minors. What the Alaska Supreme Court found is that the citizen initiative failed to do so. Abortion is legal; it’s a constitutional right. You have to have a compelling interest to justify to impair a constitutional right. Minnery’s citizen initiative failed to offer one.

When Minnery argues it was somehow wrong for the Alaska Supreme Court to throw out the initiative because 90,000 Alaskans voted for it, Minnery is demonstrating an abysmal ignorance of the checks and balances that protect our rights. Laws, including citizen initiatives voted for by as many as 90,000 Alaskans, still can’t violate the Constitution.It’s elementary civics. But Minnery, blinded by his obsession with abortion, wants to punished Justices Bolger and Maasen for Minnery’s failure to craft a legitimate excuse for his anti-abortion effort.

Minnery is like a petulant child. He screwed up drafting the initiative and, instead of owning up to it, he attacked the men and women who had to clean up his mess. He calls them “corrupt.” He’s utterly wrong. It’s a temper tantrum from a man who tried to game the legal system and was caught out. He is a serial offender, attacking former Justice Dana Fabe as well as Superior Court Judge Sen Tan.

Any prudent voter should ignore anything Minnery says. They are the ravings of a monomaniac.