Anchorage judge Jennifer Stuart Henderson to be newest Alaska Supreme Court justice

A courtroom with a lawyer testifying
The Alaska Supreme Court hears arguments in 2019 in a lawsuit filed by young Alaskans regarding climate change. On Wednesday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jennifer Stuart Henderson to fill a vacancy on the supreme court. (Elizabeth Harball/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jennifer Stuart Henderson will be the newest member of the Alaska Supreme Court after Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed her on Wednesday. 

Henderson fills the vacancy created by the retirement of former Chief Justice Joel Bolger. Justice Daniel Winfree succeeded Bolger as chief justice on July 1.

Henderson has lived in Alaska for 18 years and has been a judge since 2012, when she was appointed to the district court by former Gov. Sean Parnell. She was appointed to the Superior Court in 2017 by former Gov. Bill Walker.

[Sign up for Alaska Public Media’s daily newsletter to get our top stories delivered to your inbox.]

She has primarily heard civil cases as a judge.

In December, she weighed in on a lawsuit over Dunleavy’s vetoes of state funding for abortions from the court system’s budget. 

She ruled them to be unconstitutional, saying they violated the separation of powers doctrine. 

She wrote in her decision that she had faith the judiciary remained independent.

Dunleavy did not veto the money again this year. 

Dunleavy appointed Henderson six days after asking the Alaska Judicial Council for a new slate of nominees. Under the council’s bylaws, it cannot reconsider nominees unless there are not enough nominees available for a limited set of reasons.

This upcoming Sunday would have been the deadline for Dunleavy to make the appointment.

Henderson is originally from San Diego and graduated from Yale Law School, according to the bio she submitted in her application for the job. She was a clerk for former Alaska Supreme Court Justice Warren Mathews. She also was an assistant district attorney in Anchorage before working as attorney for the firm Farley & Graves. 

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct year that Henderson became a Superior Court judge, and that she was appointed to the Superior Court by former Gov. Bill Walker.

Previous articleLISTEN: The night a black bear pawed our tent
Next articleWhat the rise and fall of lumber prices tell us about the pandemic economy
Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.