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Lieutenant Governor Hails Supreme Court Ruling on Parental Notice

(June 2, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska) – Lieutenant Governor Craig E. Campbell expressed satisfaction with the Alaska Supreme Court decision to allow the citizens of Alaska the opportunity to vote on the citizen’s initiative on parental notice for a minor’s abortion following the ruling in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Campbell.

“In affirming the trial court’s decision that the parental notification initiative can go to the voters, the Alaska Supreme Court has preserved the people’s fundamental interest in exercising their constitutional right to initiate legislation and in safeguards ensuring informed lawmaking,” Campbell said. “The court therefore found that if the summary is corrected and voters are provided the full text of the law that would be enacted should the initiative pass, the integrity of the initiative process will be preserved.

“The initiative process is very important to Alaskans because it provides the opportunity for citizens to vote directly on matters that have not been addressed by the Legislature or that have not been addressed to the satisfaction of a significant number of voters. The Supreme Court has maintained its long-held position that initiatives will be preserved whenever possible.”

Planned Parenthood last year challenged the lieutenant governor’s summary for the petition booklets. In March of this year, the Superior Court found that the summary was misleading because it omitted three pieces of information, most significantly that a doctor who failed to give the required notice to parents before performing an abortion on a minor could be charged with a felony.

But the trial court did not invalidate the petition booklets, which would have required the sponsors to once again gather more than 30,000 signatures of registered voters, delaying the initiative by at least two years. Instead, the court ordered that the summary be revised for the ballot and the election pamphlet. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed that ruling, partly by concluding that few people who signed the petition booklets would have declined to do so if the information at issue had not been omitted.

Attorney General Dan Sullivan praised the Alaska Supreme Court today for a “balanced” ruling that allows a citizens’ initiative on parental notice for a minor’s abortion to be placed on the August primary election ballot.

“While the justices agreed with the Superior Court that the initiative summary we prepared for petition booklets had significant omissions, they also agreed with the lower court that a revised summary for the actual ballots would preserve the integrity of the initiative process without imposing the hardship upon the sponsors of beginning their signature-collecting efforts all over again,” Sullivan said. “This is a balanced decision that protects an important constitutional prerogative for Alaska citizens in elections. I want to thank Department of Law attorneys for their hard work; they’ve done an outstanding job on this case.”

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