Postcards from Alaska

The Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute has failed to persuade an Alaska judge to block a legislative investigation into possible abuses of power by Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president. On Thursday Alaska Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski basically told Liberty Legal and its clients, five GOP state lawmakers, to take a hike:

“It is legitimately within the scope of the Legislature’s investigatory power to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the termination of a public officer.”

We told you last month that the Liberty Legal Institute, the legal arm of the Plano-based Free Market Foundation (itself the Texas affiliate of the far-right Focus on the Family) was helping Republican state lawmakers in a lawsuit designed to shut down the investigation into what has been dubbed “Troopergate.” A bi-partisan legislative committee had voted in July to investigate whether Palin had improperly pressured state employees to fire her former brother-in-law, a state trooper. At first Palin said she would cooperate. After she became the Republican vice presidential nominee, however, she reversed her pledge and ordered aides not to obey subpoenas seeking their testimony.

By intervening in the case, Liberty Legal/Free Market Foundation essentially cast aside its paper-thin facade of nonpartisanship. In fact, Republicans — especially GOP presidential nominee John McCain’s campaign — have been working furiously to stop the investigation. Investigators are expected to issue their findings next week, less than a month before the general election.

So how did Liberty Legal handle the smackdown? It turned to an old standby, bizarrely attacking gay families:

“Judge Michalski is the same judge who ruled in 1998 that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right, a decision subsequently overruled by a constitutional amendment approved by the voters of Alaska.”

Clearly, Liberty Legal/Free Market Foundation has gays on the brain. In fact, the group is a reliable supporter of the most rabidly anti-gay politicians and causes in Texas. It also spends a lot of time (and costs taxpayers a lot of money) suing school districts in efforts to promote religion in public education. You can read more about this radical group in the appendices of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund’s annual State of the Religious Right reports.

So what’s next for Liberty Legal now that it has failed to obstruct the investigation in Alaska? Time will tell, but our guess is Texas public schools will be on the group’s radar again soon enough.