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Alaska Supreme Court to hear arguments in abortion initiative case

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May 20, 2010

Portal:Ballot Measure Law

JUNEAU, Alaska: The Alaska Supreme Court will hear arguments today on the case surrounding the parental notification initiative that would, if enacted by voters, mandate that parents of minors seeking an abortion be notified before going through with the procedure. Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, who are against the measure, will give their arguments today, claiming that the initiative should be kept off of the August 24, 2010 ballot.

During the week of March 16, 2010, Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner ordered that the language for the ballot measure be rewritten in order to be placed on the ballot. Although Planned Parenthood of Great Northwest and the ACLU of Alaska argued that the language was misleading, and should not be placed on the ballot, Pfiffner only ruled that the language be revised. The appeal of the decision by the ACLU of Alaska and Planned Parenthood led to the May 20, 2010 court date for oral arguments.[1]

During the month of May 2010, Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen stepped down from hearing the case. Christen was a member of Planned Parenthood in the mid-1990's, according to reports. The Alaska Family Council had previously complained that Christen had a conflict of interest in the case, therefore should be removed from the case. Christen had also encouraged both sides of the case to file objections to her involvement in the case. Christen's decision to step down came without any explanation from the Justice.[2] Christen was appointed to the state's high court in 2009 by then-governor Sarah Palin.

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