Alaska’s Judges: Public Servants, or Robed Masters?

by Jim Minnery

Judicial retention elections rarely attract much interest from the news media, or from voters. But this year we have reason to pay attention – and take action.

If you live in the 3rd Judicial District – which includes Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley, the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak, Prince William Sound and Bristol Bay Communities – you have an opportunity to vote NO on one of the state’s most liberal judges: Superior Court Judge Sen Tan.

Judge Sen Tan has left his mark on Alaska – and it’s not a pretty one.

Judge Tan struck down a common-sense measure that would require a parent to consent before an abortion can be performed on their minor daughter. Thanks to Judge Tan, a girl of any age – even 12 or 13 – can have an abortion in this state without a parent’s consent. The damage caused by Sen Tan’s decision was only partially reversed in 2010 when Alaska voters approved a ballot measure that at least gave parents the right to be informed (not consent) before an abortion is performed on their daughter.

Of course, Judge Tan’s ruling was absurd. A parent’s consent is already required before a minor can get a tattoo, a body piercing, or even an aspirin at school. There are 37 states with laws that require parental involvement before a minor’s abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld these laws as fully constitutional in nine separate decisions. Yet Judge Sen Tan arrogantly argued that Alaska’s constitution somehow prevents us from having a policy that the federal constitution and numerous other states allow. Sen Tan’s decision was nothing more than an imposition of his own extremist views, masquerading as constitutional law.

Judge Sen Tan ruled that taxpayers have to be on the hook to pay for abortions. He overturned the Alaska Legislature’s decision in 1998 to generally stop using state funds for abortions, except in cases of a threat to the mother’s life, or in cases of rape and incest.

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