JUSTICE NOT POLITICS ALASKA is a nonpartisan group of Alaskans concerned about recent efforts to amend the Judiciary Article of Alaska’s Constitution in a manner that would increase the influence of politics in our state’s judicial selection and retention processes. In our view, the Judiciary Article (Article IV) is one of the jewels of our constitution and the principal reason that Alaska has had a long history of judicial excellence. Under its provisions, the independent Alaska Judicial Council evaluates applicants for judgeships and nominates the most highly qualified applicants to the Governor, who makes the final appointment. Once appointed, judges periodically stand for retention during general elections, and the council evaluates their performance and makes recommendations to voters on whether they should be retained.
Our system of merit selection and voter retention has given Alaskans one of the most competent and accountable judiciaries in the world. It has ensured that our judges are chosen for their legal ability, integrity, fairness and judicial temperament, not their political views or affiliations. And it has helped guarantee that judicial decisions are made according to the rule of law, not popular or political pressures or influences that have no place in a justice system dedicated to fairness and impartiality.
We believe recent attempts to amend the Judiciary Article represent bad public policy and should be resisted by all informed citizens of Alaska. The system we have is not broken, has served us well, and should be preserved.