The small but extremely powerful seven-member Alaska Judicial Council will hold a public hearing on May 24, at noon, to let the public offer non-binding opinions regarding the worthiness of applicants for the Alaska Supreme Court vacancy.

These are strictly advisory opinions, which the Judicial Council is free to disregard since it has the constitutional authority to nix any applicant applying for a seat on the high court. Once the council chooses at least two candidates it deems worthy of the bench, these names will then be forwarded to the governor who must select one name on the vetted list.

The Judicial Council has exclusive power to select who the governor can choose from among when appointing any and all state judges.

It’s nearly impossible to seat a constitutionalist judge because the left-leaning Bar Association always enjoys a 4-3 majority in the Judicial Council.

This unelected body includes three members appointed by the governor and approved by the Legislature, three members appointed by the Alaska Bar Association, and the chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court – also a lawyer and member of the Bar.

Conservatives have long complained it’s nearly impossible to seat a constitutionalist judge because the left-leaning Bar Association always enjoys a 4-3 majority in the Judicial Council. This is not the case in many other states where voters directly elect judges or the governor has authority to appoint them with legislative approval, the way the president and U.S. Senate currently operate. To do this for vacancies on the Alaska Supreme Court or Superior Court requires amending the State Constitution.

The only control Alaskans have over judges is to decide whether to keep them during periodic retention elections. Voters can oust judges at the polls, but cannot choose their replacements.

Applicants applying for the current Alaska Supreme Court vacancy are: Dani Crosby, Jennifer Stuart Henderson, Yvonne Lamoureux, Margaret Paton Walsh, Paul A. Roetman, Ben Whipple, and Jonathan A. Woodman (see details on each applicant below).

The Council will meet on May 24-25, 2021 to interview and nominate who they deem to be the “most qualified applicants” for the vacancy. The Alaska Supreme Court position is opening due to the forthcoming retirement of Justice Joel Bolger.



Henderson is currently a superior court judge in Anchorage. Last year she ruled in favor of the ACLU lawsuit against Governor Mike Dunleavy’s veto of $334,700 from the Alaska Court System after the Alaska Supreme Court ordered the state to pay that amount for publicly funded abortions. She ruled against the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. By doing so, she implied that the court actually has the power to declare that the governor’s line-item veto is unconstitutional, and that the judicial branch of government actually has the power to order a restoration of funds to its own budget, an act which is constitutionally delegated only to the Legislature.

While studying at Yale Law, she was the editor of the liberal Yale Journal of Law & Feminism. Her personal references when applying for the Superior Court included Rep. Lindsey Holmes (former pro-abortion legislator) and James Torgerson (a former Bar member of the Alaska Judicial Council, and the husband of Judge Morgan Christen, the Obama-appointed judge on the 9th Circuit who once served as a Board member for Planned Parenthood of Alaska.


Lamoureux is currently a superior court judge in Anchorage. She is perhaps best known for being the judge who ruled against the Dunleavy Administration’s rejection of the Ballot Measure 2 initiative, which was narrowly approved by voters on Nov. 3. It completely changes the way elections are conducted in Alaska.  This initiative clearly violated the single-subject rule for initiatives, but Lamoureux ruled that it was fine to proceed with a complex ballot measure that would destroy the one-Alaskan, one-vote system that has governed the state since its beginning.

Lamoureux also clerked for 9th Circuit Judge Morgan Christen, an Obama appointee who was formerly on the Alaska Supreme Court and was local counsel for Planned Parenthood. Lamoureux had an internship at Feldman & Orlansky. Jeff Feldman & Susan Orlansky have long represented Planned Parenthood in various lawsuits against the state of Alaska.


Roetman is currently a superior court judge in Kotzebue. He is respected by conservative leaders across the state. He recently applied to fill a vacancy on the Alaska Supreme Court, but the Alaska Judicial Council refused to forward his name to the governor for consideration. A man of faith, he has a keen interest in constitutional law and is respected by his fellow judges. In his application for the Supreme Court, he notes that he is the son of Mexican-American parents who “exemplified hard work and sacrifice.” Roetman serves on the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct.


Crosby is a superior court judge in Anchorage. She recently struck down a state law which requires that all absentee ballots include the signature of one witness to help verify that the ballot was cast by the proper person. She said the longstanding law didn’t serve any meaningful purpose and should be tossed. She also interned for the left leaning Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. She was rejected by Gov. Sean Parnell when she applied for the Superior Court but was appointed by Gov. Bill Walker.


Patton-Walsh is currently chief assistant attorney general for special litigation in Anchorage. In 2016, as an assistant attorney general for the state, she was assigned to argue the state’s position in favor of a law that requires doctors to notify a pregnant minor’s parents before she can undergo an abortion.

Born and raised in the U.K., she is a naturalized citizen and Harvard Law graduate who worked for then Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan. At that time, she argued in favor of Alaska’s current judicial selection process. She clerked for Alaska Supreme Court Justice Alex Bryner, a notoriously liberal judge who authored a 2001 opinion striking down a state law requiring minor girls to get parental consent before undergoing an abortion.


Whipple is currently in private practice with a focus on adoption and personal injury cases. He graduated from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon with a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Education and earned his law degree from the University of San Diego, School of Law. He supports the pro-life HeartReach pregnancy and works with the group to facilitate adoptions.


Woodman is currently a superior court judge in Palmer. In 2015, as a senior assistant attorney general, he argued on behalf of the state of Alaska when it appealed a judge’s decision that struck down limitations on medically necessary abortion for purposes of Medicaid funding. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest sued the state over the law.


  • To participate by Zoom: Meeting ID 860 3342 0611 and passcode $Sk@v2=z
  • Participate by phone: Call 888-788-0099 with meeting ID 860 3342 0611 and passcode 47839962
  • For more information, visit the Council’s website at or call (907) 279-2526

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Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Mike Moore says:

    We need to revise the constitution to eliminate the way Judges are placed on the bench. Right now it is a self serving process, with “we the people”, left out of the process. The judges appointed are not in touch with the people of the state as a whole, they are only Alaskans by recent residency for the most part. Most all are not even from the west coast. They bring views and values from back east and are not in touch with Alaskans or their values. To put a finer point on the matter, most Alaskans are conservative, hard working middle class. The history of this great state reflects its values by most all Senators and and Congressmen, and Governors being conservative. They are elected by the people. Yet, our Supreme Court Judges are liberals because they are not voted into the position by the people. We have a Broken system! There is currently a Bill in our legislators hands that will address this matter. Please contact your Representative and voice your support, and yes, I have done so.

  • Rebecca Hinsberger says:

    Finally we get information to be able to really know judges’ histories ( some one at Watchman did a good job getting the info rounded up for the article). Thank You Alaska Watchman! And more importantly, Watchman is alerting us to an opportunity to make an impact on this important position!!! Thank you, again. Share this article to all your conservative friends on every platform available to you!

  • Elizabeth Henry says:

    Thank you Alaska Watchman. I only wish we could indeed really have a say. So frustrating. My hat would be thrown for Ben Whipple. He is a man of integrity who would uphold the constitution with careful consideration, thought and fairness. A brilliant but humble attorney well respected in Palmer.

  • G Aleution says:

    Paul Roetman is a person who understands faith in a Creator underpins our liberties and unalienable rights historically in the US. He has expressed support of the US Constitution which Alaska desperately needs to add going forward as balance.

  • Larry Wood says:

    Roetman and Whipple are two good candidates who would put the Constitution first, and not last. No legislating from the bench on the part of either one. However, the Constitution needs to be amended to remove any undue influence by the bar assn. Until then, we are screwed.