ANCHORAGE, Alaska—A last-minute push to unseat an Alaska Supreme Court justice is adding more fuel to this year’s tense election season. Dana Fabe is up for retention, but some conservatives want her knocked off the bench for what they call her liberal views.
Fabe is the first woman to serve on the five-member court, but now her seat is in jeopardy. The group Alaska Family Action is mounting a last-minute campaign that is encouraging voters to say “no” on retaining Fabe.
“Justice Fabe has an official philosophy that is opposed to a portion of the Alaska public,” said Alaska Family Action’s president, Jim Minnery. “Our hope is that it's at least 50 percent plus one of the Alaska public, so we can take her off the bench.”
Minnery says the group’s reasons for targeting Fabe aren’t personal but political.
“It actually has nothing to do with whether or not she's competent or admired by her peers, or if she's respected by the community,” Minnery said. “It has to do with her philosophy and how she rules from the bench, and we think it's different than what most people think needs to be in the court.”
Fabe authored the court’s 2007 opinion that struck down a state law requiring a parent to give consent before a teen gets an abortion -- an issue that was back on the ballot this year, along with Fabe's 10-year retention vote.
Alaska Family Action campaigned hard in the primary to help pass Ballot Measure 2. If passed on Tuesday, the Alaska Parental Involvement Act would forbid a minor from getting an abortion without parental notification.
Friends of Fabe say Alaska Family Action is trying to manipulate the court system in its favor.
“This group’s agenda is a grave injustice, they want their own bias,” said Linda Duck with Alaskans for Justice Dana Fabe.
“I think this is an attack on not only the independence of the judiciary, but the diversity of the judiciary,” said senior Superior Court Judge Elaine Andrews.
Fabe supporters say this campaign could set a dangerous precedent.
“It's a much broader concern than anything about this particular group or about this particular justice,” Andrews said. “If this group can do it to this justice, any group can do it to any judge, and that undermines the independence of the judiciary.”
But Minnery says justices are up for retention votes every 10 years for a reason.
“The framers of the (Alaska) constitution made it so voters can make a decision based on whatever reason they wanted,” Minnery said.
He adds that this won't be the last time Alaska Family Action fights to unseat a justice it doesn't agree with.
Fabe’s friends say she doesn’t want to speak about the campaign against her. A phone call to her was not answered.
Fabe was appointed to the Alaska Supreme Court in 1996 by then-Gov. Tony Knowles. In July the Alaska Judicial Council voted unanimously to retain Fabe.
Contact Jackie Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org