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State of Alaska

Judicial Campaigns and Elections: Alaska

Campaign Conduct

According to Canon 5 of Alaska's code of judicial conduct, judges who are seeking retention shall not:

  • Make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office.
  • Make statements that commit or appear to commit them to a particular view or decision with respect to matters likely to come before the court.
  • Knowingly misrepresent any fact concerning themselves or opposing candidates for office.
  • Personally solicit or accept funds to support their candidacy or personally solicit publicly stated support.

When there is active opposition to a judge's retention, the judge may form an election committee to solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions and solicit and obtain public statements of support.

In 2004, the Alaska Right to Life Political Action Committee challenged the constitutionality of the "pledges and promises" clause and the "commit" clause, maintaining that these restrictions chilled judicial candidates from responding to a questionnaire soliciting their views on various public issues, such as abortion and assisted suicide. In 2005, a federal district court struck down both provisions as violative of the First Amendment rights of the candidates. In 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's decision, ruling that the case was not ripe for review since there was no evidence that a judge would reasonably risk discipline by responding. Alaska Right to Life Political Action Committee v. Feldman, 05-35902 (9th Cir. 2007).