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Spring 2021 Meritorious Service Award recipient Doug Pope
by Green & Gold News |
For decades, Doug Pope fought in courts of law for the basic rights of many Alaskans. He is widely respected among his peers in Alaska’s legal community and has argued many cases that have had a profound impact on the lives of Alaskans and the interpretation of state and federal law.
A graduate of Lathrop High School and the University of Alaska, Pope earned his law degree at Willamette University before founding a law practice in Alaska. On numerous occasions he led the charge to defend the rights of Alaska’s Indigenous peoples. After the state’s voters approved an initiative to make English the official language of Alaska, he successfully argued before the Alaska Supreme Court that the Yup’ik people of Togiak had the right to speak in their own language when petitioning their local government. In other cases involving discriminatory practices against Alaska Native peoples, he challenged government agencies and private corporations and prevailed.
In 2010, Pope appeared before the U. S. Supreme Court in a case that resulted in legal clarity around the definition of what constitutes a bribe. He returned to the U.S. Supreme Court later in the decade with co-counsel to twice defend the right of a non-Native man to operate his watercraft on state waters within a federal preserve. The final victory in that case had far-reaching effects on the understanding of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
In addition to his contributions to the practice of law, Pope has served in many government offices. He worked as staff to the speaker of the Alaska State House and for several standing committees. He was a member of the Criminal Code Revision Commission and chair of the Alaska Board of Game. As a private citizen, he was the prime sponsor of the initiative to ban same-day aerial hunting of wolves and the initiative to ban billboards on the state’s highways.
In Alaska’s legal communities and beyond, Pope is widely considered a man of integrity who values hard work and the stewardship of Alaska’s resources.
It is the University of Alaska Anchorage’s honor and privilege to award Doug Pope with the Meritorious Service Award.