Judge tosses Alaska Democrats’ lawsuit

A Juneau Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Alaska Democratic Party against the state of Alaska for its refusal to allow independents to appear on the party’s fall primary ballot.

In his decision, Judge Louis James Menendez wrote that the state’s motion to dismiss the case was appropriate because the Alaska Democratic Party has itself not yet approved rules allowing independents onto the party ballot.

That decision will not be made until the party’s statewide convention in May, when delegates will be asked to change the party’s rules.

“ADP’s exhibits … make clear that ADP’s rule change allowing independent and non-affiliated candidates to run in the Democratic primary is only a proposed rule change at this point in time,” Menendez wrote. “Any such rule change … will not be known to the parties or the court until the upcoming state convention, taking place in May of 2016.”

The Alaska Democratic Party opened its case against the state in February after Alaska Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott told ADP chairwoman Casey Steinau that state law didn’t permit independent candidates to run in the Democratic primary.

The state made a motion to dismiss the case in March, and the two sides held oral arguments in front of Menendez on April 8 in Juneau. The judge’s decision was released Monday afternoon.

Repeated Alaska Supreme Court decisions have found that state courts “should not issue advisory opinions or resolve abstract questions of law.”

“What ADP is asking this court to do amounts to a request for an advisory opinion,” Menendez wrote.

Only one candidate is known to be affected by Monday’s decision: independent U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Stock, who is running against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Jon Choate, attorney for the Alaska Democratic Party, said the ADP has two choices for its next steps: It can appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court, or it can wait until after the convention and re-file the case.

“That’s a decision we’ll be making in the next several days,” he said. “In either situation, the superior court would still have to make a determination on the merits … at some point.”

Contact reporter James Brooks at James.k.brooks@juneauempire.com.

More in News

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Statewide COVID cases continue drop

On Monday, Alaska’s seven-day case rate per 100,000 people was 268.6.

Anne Zink, Alaska chief medical officer, participates in a briefing with Department of Health and Social Services officials to discuss the rise of the omicron variant of the corona virus, on Nov. 29, 2021. (screenshot)
Omicron ‘an animal of its own’

State health officials emphasize unknowns, prevention measures in wake of new coronavirus variant spread.

The Kenai Community Library health section is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. The Kenai City Council voted during its Oct. 20 meeting to postpone the legislation approving grant funds after members of the community raised concerns about what books would be purchased with the money, as well as the agency awarding the grant. The council will reconsider the legislation on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council to consider library grant again

The council earlier voted to postpone the legislation after concerns were raised about what books would be purchased.

Rep. Chris Kurka, R-Wasilla, leaves the chambers of the Alaska House of Representatives on Friday, March 19, 2021, after an hour of delays concerning the wording on his mask. On Monday, Kurka announced he was running for governor in 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Wasilla rep announces gubernatorial bid

Kurka said he was motivated to run by a sense of betrayal from Dunleavy.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Elderberry carried the Together Tree, bound for the Alaska Governor’s Mansion, up from Wrangell where it was harvested after a brief delay due to some mechanical issues. (USCG photo / Petty Officer 2nd Class Lexie Preston)
Governor’s mansion tree arrives in Juneau

No weather or floating lines could stay these Coast Guardsmen about their task.

Forever Dance students practice for the “Forever Christmas” annual holiday variety show at Kenai Central High School on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Remembering that we’re all in this together’

Forever Dance celebrates the holiday spirit with Christmas showcase.

Image via the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Nikiski soil treatment facility moves ahead

The facility, located at 52520 Kenai Spur Highway, has drawn ire from community residents.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID case rate continues decline; 7 new deaths reported

The state reported 632 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska.

People sit on a float by Kendall Auto Group during the “Christmas Comes to Kenai” parade on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘It’s our biggest so far’

The holiday spirit is back in a big way with ‘Christmas Comes to Kenai’

Most Read