Thursday, March 03, 2016

I Propose Annexing Matsu To Texas

I wrote a few days ago about Wasilla Rep. Gattis (is Gattis the plural of Gatto?) suggesting that seniors hurt by budget cuts should just move out of state.

I wrote about Sen. Dunleavy last summer when he tried to gut the proposed Erin's Law by filling it with his far-right wing national parents' rights nonsense.   I say 'nonsense' because it's only about parents' rights in a very twisted way.  One whole section, for example, is really about crippling Planned Parenthood.  He had language then, and it's back now in SB 191, to ban school districts from contracting with any abortion provider or anyone who has any contract with an abortion provider.  I wrote about all of this in detail last summer. This was all understood to be aimed at Planned Parenthood. 

My senator, Berta Gardner, asked the legislative legal folks to check into this and they've found various constitutional problems.  Here's a link to LegLegal's letter to Sen. Gardner and here's a few highlights of the problems they listed:
"Free speech and association rights: SB 191 implicates free speech rights in at least two ways. First, it prevents teachers from associating with abortion services providers, which could be construed as an unconstitutional condition. Second, it directly restricts the speech of employees or representatives of abortion services providers. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution and article 1, sections 5 and 6 of the Constitution of the State of Alaska protect the rights of free speech and association. The United States Supreme Court "has cautioned time and again that public employers may not condition employment on the relinquishment of constitutional rights."1 Likewise, public benefits may not be conditioned on the relinquishment of constitutional rights. 2"
"Bill of attainder: In at least one case, Planned Parenthood has successfully challenged legislation prohibiting abortion services providers from receiving any state funding as a bill of attainder. Article 1, section 10 of the United States Constitution and article 1 section 15 of the Constitution of the State of Alaska prohibit the enactment of bills of attainder. "To constitute a bill of attainder, the statute must (1) specify affected persons, (2) impose punishment, and (3) fail to provide for a judicial trial. "7 The primary question in this case would likely be whether the bill "imposes punishment." "To rise to the level of 'punishment' under the Bill of Attainder Clause, harm must fall within the traditional meaning of legislative punishment, fail to further a nonpunitive purpose, or be based on a "[legislative] intent to punish."8 Exclusion from funding can be deemed punishment in some cases, but "the denial of a noncontractual government benefit will not be deemed punishment if the statute leaves open perpetually the possibility of qualifying for aid. "9 Where a statute targets a particular group and makes it impossible for the group to qualify for government funding, it may be viewed as a bill of attainder."
"Equal protection: SB 191 also implicates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution and the Constitution the State Alaska because it singles out employees and representatives abortion services providers for differential treatment."

So, probably Dunleavy and Gattis would really be much more comfortable as part of the Texas legislature and so would many of their constituents.   And the rest of us would be happy to get this kind of destructive craziness out of Alaska.  But, in the meantime, those 51% of voters (at least for Gattis' district) who didn't vote in 2014, please go vote in the primaries and the general election to put saner people into the legislature until we can arrange for your district to become part of Texas. 

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