Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Coghill and Dyson Announce Move to Protect Parental Rights From Activist Court

Legislators attending the press conference today are from left to right: Rep. Bill Stoltze, Senator Donny Olson, Rep. Kevin Meyer. Senator Fred Dyson, Rep. John Coghill, Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom, Rep. Mike Kelly, Rep. Craig Johnson, and Rep. Bob Lynn.

Senator Fred Dyson and I held a press conference today announcing our plan to restore a parent's ability to direct and control the medical care of their minor children, better known as parental consent.

Senator Dyson and I are both prefiling a constitutional amendment this winter that will ask the people of Alaska to reverse the Alaska Supreme Court decision denying parents the right to properly guide their children in abortion decisions.
The decision was a blatant example of how the Alaska Supreme Court continues to make law, not by deciding the constitutionality, but by personal preference.

Parents are a child's guardian and protector. This Court's decision would deny the dignity to the family by forbidding parents to give guidance to a child in such a large decision.

Alaska's parental consent law was passed in May of 1997 after the legislature voted to override the veto of the bill by then Governor Tony Knowles. The law was carefully crafted to conform with the U.S. Supreme Court decision that required such a law to provide for a judicial bypass for a minor seeking an abortion without the consent of a parent, guardian, or custodian.

Four days before the law was to take effect, a Superior Court Judge (Sen Tan) ordered the law unconstituional and it never became effective law.
Justice Walter Carpeneti wrote a dissenting opinion and was joined in his opinion by Justice Warren Matthews. Carpeneti began his dissenting opinion with the following remarks:
"In 1997, faced with competing interests of the highest constitutional level - an underage pregnant girl's constitutional right (and duty) to protect her best interests, and the state's compelling interests in protecting children against their own immaturity - the Alaska Legislature carefully crafted the Alaska Parental Consent Act in an effort to recognize and protect all these interests. That law is fully consistent with the United States Supreme Court precedent, yet today's opinion strikes it down. Because this court's rejection of the legislature's thoughtful balance is inconsistent with our own case law and unnecessarily dismissive of the legislature's role in expressing the will of the people, I respectfully dissent."

Carpeneti also criticized the majority decision stating the Court "quickly passes over" the state's compelling interest in the "protection of children and of parents' right and duty to raise their children."

Once the resoltuion is passed by a two-thirds vote of the legislature, the language in the resolution would be placed on the November 2008 General Election Ballot. Passage of the ballot measure would place parental consent in the Constitution to protect the family from the Courts.

The language as proposed reads:

"Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, a parent or guardian is entitled to direct and control the medical care of their minor child, subject only to emergency situations as defined by the legislature, and a judicial bypass procedure as created by the legislature which is consistent with the criteria set forth in Bellott v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622 (1979)"

I think it was no accident the Court announced their decision in this case two days after the retirement of a Knowles appointee to the Alaska Supreme Court who joined in the majority decision. The judicial activism of this Court dominated by Knowles appointees must be challenged. I look forward to Governor Palin being able to make appointments to the bench that will confine themselves to uphold the constitution and reasonable interpretation of the law, not creating law.

I have not ruled out introducing legislation revising the existing statute to further challenge the Alaska Supreme Court or anything else I can do to restore the right to legislate to the legislature.
For more information on parental rights and the recent court decision, go to the Alaska Family Council website below: