A disproportionately high segment of Alaska’s incarcerated population is non-white, placing many of these citizens under the purview of the state’s felony disenfranchisement statute. This Article argues that the Alaska legislature has impermissibly broadened the scope of the felony disenfranchisement provision over time. This provision, expressly included in the Alaska Constitution and specifically debated during the convention, permits the revocation of voting rights for a person convicted of a felony involving “moral turpitude.” Rather than leave the definition of this provision to the courts, the Alaska legislature has toyed repeatedly with identifying the crimes that involve moral turpitude. Not only is the current statute impermissibly broad but its existence exceeds the legislature’s authority and stands in contravention of several provisions in the state constitution. Combined, these realities warrant a challenge to the provision’s validity under state law.
Despite a seeming abundance of nourishment in the state, with folklore of Alaska rivers so full of salmon that one can walk across to the opposite shore without getting one’s feet wet, Alaska is a very food-insecure state. As of 2014, 15% of Alaskans were found to be food insecure. This rate is part of an increasing trend; from 1998 to 2007, food insecurity increased to 3.7% in Alaska, the largest increase in the country. Further, because only 5% of the food consumed in Alaska is actually produced in-state, there is typically only a three to five-day supply of food available on grocery store shelves. However, food insecurity, particularly lack of access to healthy, fresh foods, disparately impacts rural Alaska populations, which are primarily Alaska Native, because of extreme cost. Alaska Native populations have survived on hunting and gathering for thousands of years, though many Alaska Natives now supplement traditional diets with store-bought goods. These provisions are often prohibitively expensive, because of the cost of importation to these extremely remote locations. This Article provides background on the existing state of food insecurity in Alaska, past government efforts at subsidizing agriculture within the state, and Alaskans’ enthusiasm for local produce. It also discusses relevant existing law in Alaska, in California, and at the federal level. This Article offers a series of recommendations for how these laws can be individually modified to produce a better environment for rural Alaska farmers, including, in particular, school farm programs. It ends by considering how recommended modifications may interact to produce prime growing conditions for young Alaskans with agricultural aspirations.
In March 2019, the United States Supreme Court decided Sturgeon v. Frost , unanimously holding navigable waters within Alaska’s national parks are exempt from the Park Service’s normal regulatory authority. The result of the Court’s holding has stifled federal law enforcement in Alaska. An overly cautious interpretation of Sturgeon could jeopardize federal enforcement in its entirety on the thousands of miles of navigable rivers in Alaska. However, considered in the broader context of the history of Alaskan subsistence rights and corresponding jurisprudence, there is ample legal footing in the Sturgeon opinion to provide federal law enforcement personnel with authority to enforce subsistence fishing regulations, as opposed to the navigation-based hovercraft regulation at issue in Sturgeon . Should a future challenge arise, the Supreme Court would likely uphold the Department of Interior’s authority to enforce federal subsistence fishing regulations on navigable waterways in Alaska.
Seeking to encourage people to settle the public domain, the federal government established the R.S. 2477 right of way, a grant to construct highways over land in the public domain. There are now thousands of miles of highway across the Western United States constructed pursuant to the authority in R.S. 2477, but most of these rights of way were never documented by any formal process. Alaska has made it a priority to document existing R.S. 2477 rights of way in an effort to manage and develop public lands. Identifying existing R.S. 2477 rights of way is essential for economic development, but the State’s aggressive litigation strategy threatens the rights of private property owners, the integrity of land allotments under the Alaska Native Claims Act, and federal conservation efforts in Alaska. After examining the history of R.S. 2477, Alaska’s litigation strategy, and how these rights of way conflict with interests of Native Corporations and federal wilderness and conservation efforts, this Note offers possibilities for resolving the conflict over R.S. 2477 rights of way in Alaska.
In Sturgeon v. Frost, the Supreme Court addressed the status of navigable waters in Alaska’s conservation system units. In holding that these waters are not “public lands” for the purposes of ANILCA, the Court limited the ability of the federal government to regulate them. In a footnote, Sturgeon preserved the longstanding Katie John trilogy of Ninth Circuit precedent regarding subsistence rights. This new jurisdictional framework has the potential to cause problems for subsistence management in Alaska. This Note addresses these potential consequences and proposes possible steps to create a more harmonized subsistence management system through greater cooperation between the federal government, the State, and subsistence users.