A justice who adheres to constitutional principles

I strongly call for retaining Justice Susan Carney as an independent jurist

  • Thursday, October 22, 2020 5:13pm
  • Opinion
gavel and sounding block on desk

gavel and sounding block on desk

I strongly call for retaining Justice Susan Carney as an independent jurist whose decisions are based upon our state’s constitution.

I first met Justice Carney on the soccer fields 30 years ago and was impressed by her athletic ability, but over the years, I grew more impressed by her thoughtfulness and thoroughness as she volunteered for numerous civic programs I coordinated. In 2016, when Justice Carney’s Supreme Court appointment was announced, it was heralded and greeted with enthusiasm by a community that recognized her achievements.

At her swearing in, her fellow jurists noted her extraordinary accomplishments and the promise it showed for her judicial tenure. Chief Justice Craig Stower stated, “applicants for the Supreme Court vacancy were evaluated on professional competence, integrity, fairness, temperament, judgment, common sense, legal experience, life experience and public service, and Carney received the highest scores of all.” Justice Peter J. Maassen said Carney has proved herself “unflappable” and Justice Joel H. Bolger praised her as an “intelligent, articulate, consummate professional.”

Now, four years later, we know that she is fulfilling that promise as evidenced by the report from the Alaska Judicial Council Evaluation that provided an overall rating of 4.6. This rating system consists of input from court employees and lawyers, many who argued against majority decisions she rendered.

Today, Justice Carney faces a misdirected campaign by Alaska for Judicial Reform against her retention. Rather than alleging misconduct, their issues emanates from her carrying out the duties as designed by our constitutional framework. By definition, lawsuits produce a “winning” and a “losing” side. If a party falls on the losing side, their remedy is to change the constitution, not attack a sitting justice for adhering to the mandates of law.

Attacks like these are dangerous to constitutional principles for they undermine the concept of separation of powers and checks and balances enshrined in the constitution. These safeguards were designed to protect rule of law and were meant to guard against the abuse of power. Justice Carney, obviously well respected, deserves retention. Our community is enriched by Justice Carney’s adherence to constitutional responsibilities.

— Maida Buckley

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