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Candidate Survey

1. Abortion and the Alaska State Constitution

Would you vote to support a legislative resolution to place before Alaska’s voters a constitutional amendment clarifying that the state constitution does not contain within it a right to abortion or the right for public funding of abortion?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided

Background

In the 1997 Valley Hospital decision, the Alaska Supreme Court declared as follows: “…the right to an abortion is the kind of fundamental right and privilege encompassed within the intention and spirit of Alaska’s constitutional language” (emphasis added). The court reached this conclusion despite the fact that (a) the word “abortion” is nowhere mentioned in the state constitution; (b) nothing in the 1955-1956 history of the Alaska Constitutional Convention (or any subsequent amendments adopted by the people) provides any evidence that the framers of the constitution intended to create a legal right to abortion; and (c) abortion was illegal throughout the United States when Alaska voters ratified the state constitution.

This court-manufactured “right to abortion” has been interpreted by the state Supreme Court as being far more liberal in scope than the federal abortion policy set out in U.S. Supreme Court decisions such as Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). As a consequence, Alaska courts have struck down many laws that are permissible under Roe and Casey – such as requirements for parental consent before a minor’s abortion, and laws restricting public funding of abortion.

Alaska Family Action supports a state constitutional amendment that would countermand the Valley Hospital decision with one, simple sentence: Nothing in this constitution shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the public funding thereof.

Passage of such an amendment would not by itself change the legal status of abortion in Alaska. It would, however, allow the Alaska Legislature to regulate abortion to the extent allowed by federal law and in a manner consonant with the values of Alaska voters.


2. End taxpayer subsidies for Planned Parenthood

Would you vote to support legislation to eliminate state government funding of Planned Parenthood, and other entities that either perform or pay for abortions?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided

Background

Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report states that on a national basis the organization carried out 323,999 abortions during the year, making it the single largest agent selling abortions in the U.S. By comparison, during the same year the organization made only 2,024 referrals for adoption, which equates to a ratio of 160 abortions performed for every one woman who was assisted in placing her child for adoption. Planned Parenthood reported receiving $553 million in funds from various government sources, or just under 43 percent of its total annual revenues of $1.29 billion. In Alaska, Planned Parenthood operates abortion facilities in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau.

Planned Parenthood is currently under investigation by multiple committees of Congress and several state governments, triggered by undercover videos released in 2015 showing the abortion giant’s involvement in selling organs harvested from aborted babies. In addition, Planned Parenthood affiliates have been the subject of numerous lawsuits and investigations alleging waste, abuse, and fraud involving government funds.

In response to this, a dozen states have acted to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood. The U.S. Congress in 2015 also voted to end federal funding of the abortion giant, but unfortunately this legislation was vetoed by President Obama.

In Alaska, Planned Parenthood has instigated numerous expensive lawsuits against the state, challenging even the most common sense state laws on abortion, such as a requirement that parents be notified before an abortion is performed on their minor daughter, and another policy designed to ensure that state health funds are not used to pay for abortions that have no genuine medical rationale.

Alaska Family Action believes that funding of Planned Parenthood is contrary to the best interests of state government, and it forces Alaskan taxpayers to unwillingly subsidize the many objectionable practices of this rogue entity.


3. Legal Status of Abortion

Please indicate which of the following statements most closely reflects your belief as to when the law should permit and/or prohibit abortion:

  • Abortion should be legal for any reason, at any time during a pregnancy.
  • Abortion should be legal for any reason, but not after the unborn child has reached 20

    weeks gestation.

  • Abortion should be legal for any reason, but not after the unborn child has reached 12 weeks gestation.

  • Abortion should be illegal except when necessary to save the life of the mother, or when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

  • Abortion should be illegal except when necessary to save the life of the mother.

  • Abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

  • Other (please explain)

4. Ending Abortions for Pain-capable Unborn Children

Would you vote to support state legislation similar to federal bill H.R. 36, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2015, that would ban abortions of unborn children who are capable of experiencing pain (i.e., at 20 weeks or more after fertilization)?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided

Background

 

There is a convincing body of medical evidence indicating that unborn children are capable of experiencing pain by 20 weeks after fertilization, if not sooner.  This explains why it is standard clinical practice for surgeons performing prenatal surgery to administer anti-pain medication to the unborn child prior to beginning a procedure.

As noted in a Sept. 17, 2015 letter from the National Right to Life Committee to members of the U.S. Senate, “It is now commonplace to read about evidence that, by 20 weeks fetal age and even earlier, an unborn child responds to many forms of stimuli, including music and the mother’s voice.  Claims that the same child is nevertheless insensible to the violence done to her body during an abortion should engender strong skepticism.”

Dr. Elizabeth Ann Johnson, a fellow with the Program in Human Rights and Health at the University of Minnesota, describes the procedure typically used for late-term abortions: “Abortions performed after 20 weeks gestation…. are most commonly performed by dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures.  These particularly gruesome surgical techniques involve crushing, dismemberment, and removal of a fetal body from a woman’s uterus, mere weeks before, or even after, the fetus reaches a developmental age of potential viability outside the mother.”

17 states have passed bans on abortions of pain-capable unborn children, and several other states are considering similar legislation.  The U.S. House of Representatives has also passed a bill to stop post-20 week abortions, though it has yet to pass in the U.S. Senate.


5. Physician-assisted suicide

Would you vote to oppose legislation such as HB 99 (29th Alaska Legislature) that would permit physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to help facilitate a patient’s suicide?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided

Background

Policy Background

Hearings were held in the 29th Legislature on a bill that would change Alaska statutes to permit physician-assisted suicide, by authorizing doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to certain patients for the purpose of ending their life. Numerous health care professionals testified and warned about the dangers of turning doctors into collaborators with a person’s decision to terminate their life.

The American Medical Association has stated the following regarding doctor-assisted suicide:

“…allowing physicians to participate in assisted suicide would cause more harm than good. Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. Instead of participating in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life. Patients should not be abandoned once it is determined that cure is impossible.” (AMA Code of Medical Ethics, Opinion 2.211, emphasis added).

The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), which strongly opposes doctor-assisted suicide, has helped shine the light on some of the many unintended consequences of going down this road. Marilyn Golden with DREDF states:

“…the reality is that legalizing assisted suicide is a deadly mix with the broken, profit-driven health care system we have in the United States. At less than $300, assisted suicide is, to put it bluntly, the cheapest treatment for a terminal illness. This means that in places where assisted suicide is legal, coercion is not even necessary. If life sustaining treatment is denied or even merely delayed, patients will be steered toward assisted suicide, where it is legal. This problem applies to government-funded health care as well.”


6. Protection of Alaska’s Marriage Amendment

Would you vote to oppose legislation such as HJR 1 (29th Alaska Legislature) which would repeal Article 1, Section 25 of the Alaska Constitution, which states: “To be valid or recognized in this State, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman.”

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided

Background

In 1998, Alaska became the first state in the nation to pass a constitutional amendment that specifically defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, thereby precluding
other unions, such as polygamy or same-sex relationships, from being recognized or defined as “marriage” under state law. The amendment was approved by 68 percent of voters. Voters in 29 other states have approved similar amendments to their respective state constitutions.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (June 2015) imposed a court-invented right to same-sex marriage on Alaska and all other states in the nation. Alaska
Family Action agrees with the dissenting opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts when he wrote:

“This universal definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is no historical coincidence. Marriage did not come about as a result of a political movement, discovery, disease, war, religious doctrine, or any other moving force of world history—and certainly not as a result of a prehistoric decision to exclude gays and lesbians. It arose in the nature of things to meet a vital need: ensuring that children are conceived by a mother and father committed to raising them in the stable conditions of a lifelong relationship.”

Marriage between a man and a woman is the fundamental building block of society and culture. It deserves its status as a privileged institution in public policy because of the unique benefits it confers on civilization. Notwithstanding the decision of five unelected and unaccountable justices on the Supreme Court, the marriage clause in Alaska’s constitution is an important articulation of social policy based on truth, and the will of the people.

Alaska Family Action believes the appropriate response to the Obergefell decision is principled resistance, not acquiescence. The project of redefining marriage for everyone, by transforming it into a “genderless” institution, will not end well. Once gender differences are discarded – as if they were meaningless for defining the substance of marriage – there will no longer be any rational basis under the law for limiting the marriage union to only two persons, as opposed to polygamous relationships of three, four, five or more persons. When marriage is redefined to mean anything, it will soon come to mean nothing.


7. Creating protected classes based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”

Would you vote to oppose legislation such as HB 19 and SB 20 (29th Alaska Legislature) that would create special protected classes based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” in Alaska law?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided

Background

Existing law in Alaska (AS 18.80.210) prohibits discrimination based on immutable characteristics (such as race, color, sex); and also on characteristics that may be mutable over time but which nonetheless can be clearly defined (such as pregnancy, marital status, physical or mental disability, religion). But legislation such as HB 19 and SB 20, introduced in the 29th Alaska Legislature, would add classes based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression.” The latter term is defined as follows: “having or being perceived as having or expressing a gender, self-image, appearance, or behavior, regardless of whether that gender, self-image, appearance, or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth.” (emphasis added)

Terms such as “self-image” and “expression” involve nebulous concepts that are not clearly defined as a matter of law, and which may be constantly evolving. Laws that protect our rights should be clear and unambiguous, not moving targets that can mean different things to different people.

A proposal almost identical to HB 19 and SB 20 was placed on the ballot of the April 3, 2012 local election in the Municipality of Anchorage. Proposition 5 was defeated when 57 percent of voters rejected the measure. This occurred despite the fact that supporters of Prop. 5 outspent opponents by a ratio of 4 to 1.

Alaska Family Action opposes legislation such as HB 19/SB 20 because it elevates the ideological agenda of a few over the freedoms of all. When other states and localities have adopted similar laws, the predictable result has been discrimination against business owners, landlords, and other individuals who hold traditional views about sexual behavior and gender, because they are prohibited from operating their businesses in a way that is consistent with their beliefs.

For example, a wedding photographer in New Mexico was found guilty by that state’s Supreme Court of violating New Mexico’s ban on “sexual orientation” discrimination after she politely declined to take pictures at a homosexual “commitment ceremony” because it conflicted with her Christian beliefs. The homosexual couple had no problem finding another photographer willing to photograph their event, but nevertheless filed a complaint against the Christian photographer in order to punish her for operating her business in accord with the dictates of her conscience.


8. Protection of privacy in restrooms and similar facilities

Would you vote to support legislation that would require public schools and government buildings that maintain multi-occupancy restrooms, showers, locker rooms, and similar facilities to designate such facilities for use only by persons of the same sex, with “sex” being defined as the objective, biological condition of being female or male?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided

Background

A number of cities in the U.S., including Anchorage, have adopted laws stating that persons can have access to whatever restrooms or locker rooms match their self-professed “gender identity.” Most of these laws define the term “gender identity” in highly subjective terms, similar to the Anchorage ordinance (AO 96): “Gender identity means a person’s gender-related self-identity, as expressed in appearance or behavior, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.” Translation: if you are a biological male, and you choose to act or dress like a woman, you are legally entitled to utilize restrooms or locker rooms that are reserved for women.

Such a policy attempts to ignore biological reality, and forces everyone to subjugate their privacy rights, in favor of validating someone else’s subjective feelings regarding sexual identity. As a practical matter, such policies make laws against voyeurism and indecent exposure difficult or impossible to enforce in the context of locker rooms and similar intimate facilities. In public
schools, students have a right to physical privacy – and that includes the right not to be seen in various states of undress by members of the opposite sex. The failure to protect students’ rights to physical privacy can create unsafe situations, and may potentially cause embarrassment, shame, and psychological injury.

Unsurprisingly, policies allowing access to intimate facilities based on “gender identity” have led to numerous occasions of privacy violations and other mischief. In one example, a few weeks after Washington state began allowing access based on “gender identity,” a man walked into the women’s locker room at a Seattle-area swimming pool and proceeded to undress in front of young girls and their mothers. When complaints were raised, the man’s predictable response: “The law has changed and I have a right to be here.”

Source: http://komonews.com/news/local/man-found-in-womens-locker-room-cites-new-transgender-bathroom-rule


9. Parental choice in education

Would you vote to support passage of legislation such as SJR 9 & HJR 1 (28th Alaska Legislature), which would place before voters a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the use of public money for the benefit of all Alaskans seeking educational aid, regardless of whether the individual chooses to receive these educational services at a public or private school?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided

Background

A public opinion survey of more than 1,000 Alaskans (Braun Research, 2011) showed that 64 percent support a voucher system that would give parents greater choice for how their children are educated, including both public and private school options. Across the nation, programs that promote greater parental choice in education are growing in popularity. More than half of all states have adopted some mechanism for allowing greater school choice, whether through the use of vouchers, tax credit scholarships, individual tax deductions, or educational savings accounts.

The part of the Alaska Constitution that mandates the creation of a system of public schools (Article VII, Section 1) also contains the following sentence: “No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.” Unfortunately, previous state court rulings have interpreted this ban to apply even to state funds being allotted to the parents/student, who would in turn make the decision to use the funds at a private institution.

Alaska Family Action believes there is an obvious public interest in promoting an educated populace – but ironically, that interest is not well served by a system of laws and taxation that encourages a government monopoly in the provision of educational services. Monopolies have never encouraged excellence and innovation – that comes from competition.

Passage of legislation such as SJR 9 / HJR 1 would not, by itself, create school choice in Alaska. Rather, it would place before voters a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the use of public money for the benefit of all Alaskans seeking educational aid, regardless of whether the individual chooses to receive these educational services at a public or private school.

Voter approval of such a constitutional amendment would remove the legal roadblock that prevents the Legislature from crafting a school choice program that works for the parents and students of Alaska.


10. Protection of religious liberty & freedom of conscience

Would you vote to support passage of legislation providing that no employer, public accommodation, or other person shall be required or compelled to participate in any activity related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage, when such participation would violate a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided

Background

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (June 2015), which imposed a court-invented right to same-sex marriage throughout the United States, has already led to numerous conflicts with the religious liberty of Americans who dissent from the new legal orthodoxy. Chief Justice John Roberts, in his dissenting opinion, predicted these clashes would occur:

“Federal courts are blunt instruments when it comes to creating rights. They have constitutional power only to resolve concrete cases or controversies; they do not have the flexibility of legislatures to address concerns of parties not before the court or to anticipate problems that may arise from the exercise of a new right. Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority— actually spelled out in the Constitution.” [emphasis added]

Conflicts between religious liberty and same-sex marriage have already been brewing at the state level, even before Obergefell. Shortly after Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in 2012, a florist – Barronelle Stutzman – was sued by both the state’s Attorney General and the ACLU when she declined to design and create the flowers for a same-sex wedding ceremony, because she felt it conflicted with her religious beliefs. In Colorado, a cake shop was ordered by the state’s Civil Rights Commission to supply cakes for same-sex weddings, and their staff were ordered to go through a “re-education” program. In New Mexico, a wedding photographer was found guilty of discrimination by the state Supreme Court, simply because she politely declined a job to take
pictures at a same-sex ceremony.

One of the New Mexico justices coldly observed that the photographers “now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” and further described this subjugation as “the price of citizenship.”


11. Judicial selection reform

Would you vote to support legislation such as SJR 3 (29th Alaska Legislature), which would place before voters a proposed constitutional amendment that would double the number of public, non-attorney members on the Alaska Judicial Council from three to six, and require the attorney members to be confirmed by the Legislature?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided

Background

The Alaska Judicial Council is authorized by Article IV, Section 8 of the state constitution. The Council currently has seven members: three attorney members, appointed by the Alaska Bar Association (ABA); three non-attorney members (“public members”) who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court serves as the 7th member – but votes only when it changes the outcome, such as to break a 3 to 3 tie among the other 6 members of the Council.

When a vacancy occurs on a court, those who wish to serve as a judge or justice must first apply to the Judicial Council. Only those applicants who can secure at least 4 “yes” votes from Council members can have their names submitted for the Governor’s review. The Governor makes the final decision, but the list of choices submitted for the Governor’s consideration is typically meager – often just two names.

The Council has come under increasing criticism for the fact that a majority of its members (i.e., those who are members of the Alaska Bar Association) are not accountable to any elected official in government – i.e., the Governor or the Legislature. In just the last several years, there have been five occasions when all three public members on the Council supported nominating judicial applicants with outstanding qualifications; however, all the voting attorney members of the Council opposed these nominations, and the Chief Justice – also a dues-paying member of the Bar
Association – voted with the attorneys to block these applicants from being considered by the Governor. Of these five cases, three of them occurred with nominations to the Alaska Supreme Court – the highest and most powerful judicial panel in the state.

When the Chief Justice votes in these situations it presents an obvious conflict of interest. By acting to prevent certain court applicants from even being reviewed by the Governor, the Chief Justice is directly helping pick who will serve with him or her on the Supreme Court. This obviously affects the balance of power on the Supreme Court, which in turn determines the judicial philosophy of the entire court system, since lower courts are bound by rulings of the Supreme Court.

Legislation introduced in the 29th Alaska Legislature – SJR 3 – proposes to place before voters a proposed constitutional amendment that would double the number of public, non-attorney members on the Alaska Judicial Council from three to six, and require the attorney members to be confirmed by the Legislature.

Amending the constitution as proposed by SJR 3 would result in more public involvement in the judicial selection process. It would also virtually eliminate the occasions where the Chief Justice would be voting to break tie votes among other Council members, thus eliminating the conflict of interest that is inherent whenever the Chief Justice is involved in picking judges.


12. Political Activity of the Judicial Council

Would you vote to support legislation such as HB 200 and SB 76 (28th Alaska Legislature) that would prohibit the Alaska Judicial Council from using public funds to campaign for or against judges or justices who are standing in retention elections?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided

Background

In 1975, the Alaska Judicial Council asked the Legislature for statutory authority to make recommendations on how people should vote in judicial retention elections. This led to the introduction of HB 384 by the House Judiciary Committee.The bill was passed by both houses of the Legislature in just 26 days –offering precious little time for public input, or even serious deliberation on the part of lawmakers. It was signed into law by former Governor Jay Hammond. As a result, according to the American Judicature Society, Alaska became the very first state in the nation to use public funds to “advise” voters on how they should cast their ballots.

Most Alaskans take it for granted that public funds could never be used, legally, to pay for campaign advocacy messages on behalf of a candidate for Governor, or a legislative candidate. Yet when it comes to judicial retention elections, there is not even a pretense of neutrality regarding the process.The state government, through the Alaska Judicial Council and the Division of Elections, spends untold thousands of dollars in every election cycle to promote a specific vote on judges and justices on the ballot. This has included not only “vote yes”and “vote no” statements printed in the Official Election Pamphlet, but also newspaper and radio advertisements that actually have campaigned for judges whenever their retention was challenged by any organized public opposition.

Legislation has been debated in recent years that would prohibit the Alaska Judicial Council from using public funds to campaign for or against judges or justices who are standing in retention elections. Alaska Family Action believes passage of such legislation is a crucial step for preserving the original intent of our Constitution for having retention elections in the first place.

The retention election is the only opportunity for the public to directly engage in the process of determining who will serve them in the 3rd branch of government. The public has a right to evaluate judges without state government exercising a coercive influence by “advising” the public on how they should cast their ballots.

The Alaska Constitution,at Article 9, Section 6, says that no public funds can be appropriated except for a public purpose. Alaska Family Action believes there can be no valid public purpose for using the public’s money to tell the public how they ought to vote – in any election.

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