Press Release

Department of Law Seeks Supreme Court Review Regarding the Implementation of Regulations on Same-Sex Benefits

October 31, 2006

(Anchorage) - Attorney General David Márquez announced today that the Department of Law will petition the Alaska Supreme Court for review of a decision by the Anchorage Superior Court regarding the implementation of regulations for same-sex benefits.

Marquez stated that, "The Commissioner of Administration adopted regulations on October 13, 2006 implementing the mandate of the Supreme Court in the ACLU case. On October 30, 2006, the Superior Court issued an order not simply disapproving parts of the regulations but actually directing the Commissioner of Administration to rewrite the regulations in a particular way, simply because the judge disagreed with their content. This is inappropriate. The adopted regulations are neither unfair nor constitutionally infirm. While the court may have its own view of how it would have approached this issue, the statutory and regulatory framework for state employee benefits is an inherent function of the legislative and executive branches of state government. As a result the Department of Law has asked that the superior court order of October 30 be stayed to allow review by the Alaska Supreme Court."

"Last week, at the recommendation of Department of Administration Commissioner Scott Nordstrand, Governor Frank H, Murkowski called for a special session of the Alaska State Legislature to address the issue of how the Supreme Court's ruling should be implemented," said Márquez. "Implicit in the Supreme Court's order, is the notion that the legislature is the appropriate body to consider this remedy. Creation of the statutory and regulatory framework to address the issue of implementation of state benefits is an inherent function of the legislative and executive branches of state government. Because the Supreme Court's order addressing the remedy was received after the regular legislative session ended, and subsequent legislative attention was focused on the gasline, this is the first realistic opportunity to allow them to respond."

Márquez also noted that, "The Lieutenant Governor has strongly asserted that the regulations recently adopted go beyond the existing statutory framework. Given this concern it is appropriate that the legislature be afforded the opportunity to remove any doubt as to the Commissioner's authority."

As a result the Department of Law has requested that Judge Joannide's order dated October 30th be stayed pending review by the Alaska Supreme Court.

"The Department of Law recognizes its obligation to honor and comply with decisions by the state's highest court," said Márquez. "This concern remains a priority for the department and it is, in that spirit, that we are announcing this request."

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