On appeal, the mother also argued that the child support order burdens her free exercise of religion as protected by the Alaska Constitution. She contended that the order in effect requires her to give up her Native religious and cultural heritage to maintain a stressful job in Anchorage. The majority rejected her claim because it had not been raised at trial.
Justice Winfree dissenting argued in part:
Today’s decision has enormous negative implications. It trivializes and devalues Alaska Natives’ cultural, spiritual, and religious connections to their villages and their subsistence lifestyle. It requires a non-custodial Native parent in rural Alaska to pay child support based on what the parent could earn in urban Alaska regardless of the legitimacy of choosing to live in rural Alaska.... [I]t infringes on constitutionally protected religious and privacy rights.