Alaska editorial: No closed sessions

This editorial first ran in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

The Alaska Supreme Court has given clear marching orders to the Alaska Redistricting Board — follow the provisions of the Alaska Constitution in drawing election districts.

After the board completes that analysis, any deviations it makes from the state constitution to reach compliance with federal law must be as minimal as possible.

The five-member board began Monday a week-long series of meetings to draft a new plan consistent with the Alaska Constitution. The meetings are to take place in Anchorage.

The announcement about the latest series of meetings says the meetings are open to the public, but “Discussion of legal matters may require executive session.”

That’s the wrong way to start.

It is essential that in carrying out this mandate, the board members resist the temptation to go behind closed doors.

Let’s keep this process in public. There is no need to plot legal strategy in secret.

If the board believes that deviations from the constitution are required, the discussion should take place in the open, so Alaskans can judge for themselves.

The court has made it clear that constitutional requirements take precedence and that any deviations must be kept at a minimum.

The best way to ensure that constitutional compliance remains the number one priority is to conduct all meetings in public.

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