Introduction:

With the assistance of Lawyers Defending American Democracy, Alaska lawyers have the opportunity to sign the following letter calling on Senator Murkowski and Senator Sullivan to fulfill their congressional duty to serve as a check on presidential actions that upend our Constitution and the rule of law. For the sake of our democracy, please add your name to the letter and share it with your colleagues.  

Alaska attorneys might also wish to sign the separate letter from Lawyers Defending American Democracy calling on President Trump to abide by the standards and values of our democracy.  As lawyers, we have an obligation to take a stand for the rule of law and for our system of government.

Charles E. Cole, Former Attorney General, State of Alaska
Walter L. Carpeneti, Chief Justice, Supreme Court (Ret.)


The Open Letter:

Dear Senators Murkowski and Sullivan:

We are Alaska lawyers writing to enlist your support in defending the constitutional values and norms of political behavior on which our democracy depends. These core values and principles – the rule of law, institutional checks and balances, separation of powers, freedom of the press, truthfulness to the public, and the integrity of our justice system – are under attack.

In our system of government, laws are only as good as those willing to uphold them. When a president disregards core values and principles, it is the duty of Congress to serve as a check – otherwise the rule of law becomes meaningless.

President Donald Trump is actively challenging the rule of law and undermining constitutional values and principles. Among other things, he is subverting the independence and integrity of the federal criminal justice and intelligence agencies; he is blocking proper congressional oversight of his administration at every level; he has indicated his willingness to take assistance from foreign governments for the next election; he is failing to fulfill his constitutional duty by appointing “acting” administrators to positions subject to consent by the Senate; he has improperly invoked emergency powers over the border wall to circumvent Congress’ appropriation power; and almost every day more evidence emerges of the President’s violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.

In direct contradiction of America’s first amendment principles, President Trump has repeatedly attacked the mainstream news media as the “enemy of the American people,” sowing the seeds of violence against journalists. And he undercuts the integrity of the courts with the blanket condemnation that our justice system is “broken and unfair” and by pillorying judges and decisions that he dislikes.

A new, nonpartisan organization called Lawyers Defending American Democracy (LDAD) has recently published an Open Letter to the President and Congress addressing these issues, www.lawyersdefendingdemocracy.org. As it notes, in part:

The President’s attacks on these core American democratic principles undermine the foundations of our Constitution and threaten the rule of law. Unless challenged and checked, this pattern of disregard weakens the norms that underpin America’s self-government and invites unfettered executive power – transforming the United States from a democracy to an autocracy. As members of the legal profession, pledged to support the rule of law and the constitutional separation of powers, we must not allow this to happen.

The values and principles threatened here [transcend] politics, policy differences and any politician’s self-interest. They’re the bedrock of our American, constitutional, democratic form of government.

We are specifically asking you to issue a statement supporting Lawyers Defending American Democracy’s Open Letter (https://lawyersdefendingdemocracy.org/letter/) and cause it to be published in the Congressional Record. We also believe that the Letter could be a worthwhile point of reference for a Judiciary Committee hearing on the challenges currently facing the rule of law in our country. We would hope for bi-partisan support in both chambers. As noted in Lawyers Defending American Democracy’s Open Letter, prominent conservative lawyers have recently spoken out on many of these same issues through a new organization, “Checks and Balances.” We ask you to do the same.

More broadly, we are asking you to join us and take a stand for America’s core values and principles. We ask that you publicly call on the Senate leadership and your Congressional colleagues to take all actions available to preserve and protect America’s democracy.

Thank you.


Signers (NOTE: Please be aware that there will be a time lag between completing the form and your name appearing as a signatory. Thank you for your understanding.)

Amanda Harber – Soldotna, Alaska; Attorney
Anna C Crary – Anchorage; Attorney, private practice
Annalee McConnell – Juneau, AK; Former Director, State of Alaska Office of Management and Budget
Averil Lerman, Anchorage, AK; Formerly with the Federal Public Defender; Retired
Barbara Craver – Juneau, Alaska; Retired
Bruce A Bookman – Anchorage; Bookman & Helm LLP. Retired
Caitlin Shortell – Anchorage, AK; Owner and Attorney, Shortell Law LLC; former Assistant Attorney General, State Department of Law
Camillé Oechsli Taylor – Anchorage, AK; Retired
Clifford J Groh, II – Anchorage, Alaska; Former Assistant District Attorney, State of Alaska
Cynthia Strout – Anchorage, Alaska; Former President of the Alaska Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Dan Wayne – Juneau Alaska; Member of Alaska Bar Association 28 years
Daniel Bruce – Juneau, Alaska; Baxter Bruce & Sullivan PC
Danielle Baileu – Anchorage, AK; Attorney, State of Alaska
Deborah A. Holbrook – Juneau; Law Office of Deborah A. Holbrook
Deborah Greenberg – Anchorage, AK; Assistant District Attorney, Alaska/Assistant Attorney General, Alaska
Deborah O’Regan – Anchorage; Alaska Bar Association
Dena Ivey – Anchorage, Alaska; Attorney
Douglas Mertz – Juneau, Alaska; Mertz Law Office
Edward H. Hein – Juneau, Alaska; United States Administrative Law Judge (retired)
Elizabeth Ann Gifford – Juneau, Alaska; Retired from Faulkner Banfield, P.C.
Elizabeth M. Bakalar – Juneau, Alaska; Former Senior Assistant Attorney General for the State of Alaska, Department of Law, Current Solo Practitioner
Emily Wright – Juneau, Ak; Alaska Bar Member
Emma Haddix – Anchorage, AK; State of Alaska, Senior Assistant Attorney General
Eric Kueffner – Juneau, Alaska; Retired from Faulkner Banfield, P.C.
Erin Dougherty Lynch – Anchorage, AK; Native American Rights Fund, Senior Staff Attorney
Erin M Lillie – Nome, Alaska; LT Nome Law, PC: Partner
Evan Chyun – Anchorage, AlK; Former Assistant Public Advocate, State of Alaska
Glenn Cravez – Anchorage, Alaska; Law Office of Glenn E. Cravez, Inc.
Helen Sharratt – Eagle River, Alaska; Legal Services & Guardian Ad Litem
Jack Garyth Poulson – Juneau, AK; Sanders Poulson Woolford, LLC
James R Jackson – Crozet, VA; GCI
Janna Stewart – Anchorage, Alaska; Former Alaska Court System, retired/inactive
John Gaguine – Juneau, AK; Former Assistant Attorney General
John Murtagh – Anchorage, AK; Solo private practice since 1982
Joseph W Geldhof – JUneau; Law Office of Joseph W. Geldhof
Kathleen Strasbaugh – Juneau, AK; Solo practitioner and former Alaska Assistant Attorney General
Kevin F. McCoy – Anchorage, Alaska 99501; Office of the Federal Defender for the District of Alaska
Kristina Miller – Fairbanks, Alaska; Alaska Bar Association, Practicing Attorney
Laura C. Bottger – Bainbridge Island, AK; Former Assistant Attorney General, Alaska
Lee Holen – Anchorage, AK; Lee Holen Law Office
Leslie Hiebert – Anchorage; Private Practice
Lisa DeCora – Anchorage, AK; Big Fire Law & Policy Group
Lisa DeCora – Anchorage, Alaska; Alaska Bar Member
Lisa Weissler – Juneau, Alaska; Assistant Attorney General, State of Alaska, Retired
Marianna Carpeneti – Juneau, AK; State of Alaska, Office of Public Advocacy
Mark C Choate – Juneau, Alaska; Choate Law Firm LLC
Mary Alice McKeen – Juneau; Administrative Judge, Office of Administrative Appeals, National Marine Fisheries Service (ret.)
Megan Sandone – Anchorage, Alaska; Jermain Dunnagan & Owens
Meredith Ahearn – Anchorage, Alaska; Lawyers Defending America
Michael A. D. Stanley – Juneau, Alaska; None
Michael J. Frank – Anchorage, AK; Former member of Alaska and Michigan Bar Associations
Michael Stark – Juneau AK; Former Assistant Attorney General and Vice Chair Alaska Board of Parole
Michelle Nesbett – Anchorage, Alaska; Nesbett Law Offices and former Assistant District Attorney, State of Alaska
Moira K. Smith – Anchorage, AK; Attorney
Monica Elkinton – Anchorage, Alaska; Assistant Municipal Attorney, Municipality of Anchorage
Nancy Wainwright – Anchorage, Alaska; Wainwright Legal Services, LLC.
R. Scott Taylor – Anchorage, Alaska; Former Senior Asstistant Attorney General; Private Practice
Ryan W. Jager – Anchorage, Alaska; Solo Practitioner
Sarah J Felix – Portland, OR; Assistant Attorney General, State of Alaska, Department of Law
Shelley K Chaffin – Anchorage, AK; Law Office of Shelley K. Chaffin
Steve White – Juneau, Alaska; Assistant Attorney General, former
Tara Wheatland – Anchorage, AK; Attorney
Tom Koester – Juneau, Alaska; Retired
W. David Weed – Anchorage, Alaska; Alaska Bar Association; The State Bar of California (inactive)
Walter (Bud) Carpeneti – Juneau, Alaska; Chief Justice, Alaska Supreme Court (Ret.)