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Attorney General Appeals Ruling in Alaska Democratic Party v. State


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November 3, 2017 (Anchorage, AK)—The State filed an appeal today to the Alaska Supreme Court in Alaska Democratic Party v. State of Alaska, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state statute that requires a candidate who runs in a political party’s primary election to be a registered member of that party. The Alaska Democratic Party filed suit against the State in order to be allowed to run unaffiliated candidates, who are not registered Democrats, in its 2018 political party primary.

Last month, Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg struck down the statute, finding that it violates the Alaska Democratic Party’s First Amendment right to associate with candidates who are not Democrats.

Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth has decided to appeal that ruling to the Alaska Supreme Court.

“We don’t agree with the superior court that the party membership requirement in state statute places an unconstitutional burden on political parties,” said Attorney General Lindemuth. “This case presents significant constitutional questions that should be decided by the Alaska Supreme Court.”

In designing Alaska’s Election Code, the Alaska Legislature chose two different paths that a political candidate can take in order to have their name appear on the general election ballot: one is to run in and win a political party primary, the other is to follow a petition process.

The State will seek expedited consideration by the Alaska Supreme Court in order to provide clarity before the deadline for candidates to file declarations of candidacy for next year’s elections.

A copy of the State’s brief before the superior court and the Notice of Appeal are attached.

For more information, contact Assistant Attorney General Libby Bakalar at libby.bakalar@alaska.gov or 465-3600.

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