Kritarchy is defined as a system of rule by judges. It first showed up in the tribal confederacy of ancient Israel described in the Biblical Book of Judges. Here in Alaska, an increasingly leftist and constitutionally untethered State Judiciary is asserting its control over all things that take place. Last week, a Bill Walker appointee issued a ruling that removed the ability of the governor and the legislature to control spending on the state judiciary.
In 2019 and 2020, Governor Dunleavy vetoed $334,700 from the courts system in response to court rulings that forced the state to spend that amount in Medicaid abortions. The amount was the additional the State had to spend on this procedure due to the court’s ruling. This irritated the Alaska Supremes to the point where they ignored both state law and precedent, approving three ballot initiatives, including one to recall Dunleavy from office. For their part, the legislature failed to override the vetoes and did not restore the funding.
Last week, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jennifer Henderson, issued a ruling that the vetoes were a violation of separation of powers improperly influencing the State’s judiciary undermining the independence of the judiciary. The lawsuit was brought by Alaska ACLU.
In one fell swoop, this Superior Court Judge has taken control of the judiciary budget, taking that control away from both the governor and the legislature, both of which participated in this veto. Essentially, this single judge is saying the Governor can only veto parts of their budget if she approves of that reason. I do expect the Alaska Supremes who are still irritated with Dunleavy to uphold the ruling.
After then, what happens?
If it were me (and it isn’t), I would laugh and smile at the courts, ignore the opinion, and force them to come up with the money themselves. I would also seriously consider supporting a state constitutional convention the next time it comes up in 2022. If these black-robed politicians want to be politicians, perhaps it is time for them to run for office rather than stand for retention.
The entire affair reminds us how broken both the judiciary and the Judicial Council who recommends appointments of these people to the governor are. And the only way that gets fixed is with a constitutional convention. It also reminds us what a disaster the democrat administration led by Bill Walker and Bruce Botelho was.
Final piece of this is retention. Both Judge Henderson and one of the Alaska Supremes are up for retention in November. Perhaps Alaskan voters ought to remind them who is actually in charge of the budget in this state.
Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.