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Alaska Supreme Court: Courthouse is open to all who stand up for constitutional principles, not just the wealthy


June 06, 2015
Saturday PM

(SitNews) - Last Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court reaffirmed that no Alaskan should ever risk bankruptcy when standing up for the Constitution.

Bristol Bay has one of the world's largest runs of salmon. It also sits on top of gold, copper, and molybdenum: the state let Pebble Limited Partnership explore mining there. Former First Lady Bella Hammond, former Alaska constitutional delegate Vic Fischer, Bristol Bay residents Ricky Delkittie, Sr., Violet Willson, and Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of Bristol Bay-area tribes and village corporations, sued the state, arguing that the process of granting permits to Pebble Mine violated the Alaska Constitution.

The plaintiffs lost and the trial court ordered them to pay almost $1 million in attorney's fees and costs to the state and the mine developer. They believed this decision to be wrong because in Alaska, the courthouse is open to everyone who stands up for constitutional principles, not just the wealthy.

The plaintiffs appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court and the ACLU stood with them filing a friend-of-the-court brief, arguing that no Alaskan should face bankruptcy when she goes to court to challenge the constitutionality of an act.

According to the ACLU, no matter your feelings about the Pebble Mine, making plaintiffs like Bella Hammond and Vic Fischer pay millions of dollars in attorney's fees would stop everyone from standing up for the constitution.

Last Friday, on the question of attorney’s fees, the Alaska Supreme Court agreed with the petitioners that the Constitution belongs to all of us and that every Alaskan, not just the wealthy, can go to court to defend it.



Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


On the Web:

ACLU-Alaska friend-of-the-court brief (pdf)

Supreme Court of the State of Alaska's Opinion (pdf)


Source of News:

ACLU Alaska


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