Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has selected Judge Morgan Christen to become an Alaska Supreme Court justice, the second woman ever named to that bench.
From the Alaska Daily News (read the entire article, there’s a lot of detail in it):
Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday picked an Anchorage judge to fill the latest vacancy on the Alaska Supreme Court despite efforts by a conservative Christian group to convince her to do otherwise.
“Alaska’s Supreme Court bears the awesome responsibility of ensuring that our court system administers justice in firm accordance with the principles laid down in our state Constitution,” Palin said in a written statement. “I have every confidence that Judge Christen has the experience, intellect, wisdom and character to be an outstanding Supreme Court justice.”
Some of the methodology behind the pick:
Last week, the governor’s office asked the Judicial Council for everything it knew about the nominees, including the “application for this or any other judicial appointment, for retention election, or for any other purpose.”
While governors sometimes have questions about nominees, none had ever made such a sweeping request, Larry Cohn, Judicial Council executive director, said.
The council staff delivered packets of additional information to Palin’s Anchorage office on Wednesday, excluding only internal work memos and comments where confidentiality was promised.
Aides to the governor wouldn’t answer questions about specific concerns that might have prompted the governor’s request. However, both Christen and Smith have been involved in organizations that might give Palin pause.
Christen’s application included her membership in several charitable groups, including some from her past, but did not mention that she was on the board of Planned Parenthood in the mid-1990s. The organization, which didn’t provide abortions in Alaska until 2003, is now on the opposite side of a Palin-supported bill to require girls under 17 to get parental consent for an abortion.
Back in the 1980s, Smith was executive director of the public interest environmental law firm, Trustees for Alaska. The group currently is on the opposite side of Palin over the listing of Cook Inlet beluga whales as endangered.
Christen, 47, attended colleges in England, Switzerland and China before graduating from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s in international studies. Her law degree is from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. She’s currently on the board of the Alaska Community Foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation.
You can read Governor Palin’s press release here.
Not a ton of reax out there yet, though there are plenty of comments at the ADN article. Some others:
The fact that she selected Christen over Smith, despite being lobbied by conservative Christians to battle the AJC, is significant – especially with the parental consent billpending before the Legislature. I think it sends a pretty clear signal that she is placing the economic well-being of Alaskans over her personal beliefs – but this is nothing new. Her philosophy of strict constructionism is once again demonstrated in her press release about the appointment:
“Alaska’s Supreme Court bears the awesome responsibility of ensuring that our court system administers justice in firm accordance with the principles laid down in our state Constitution,” said Governor Palin.
There are people on the Right who will not like this – as a matter of fact, it sounds like some social conservatives in Alaska are already unhappy. But, as she has always stated when asked, she feels that the question of abortion should be resolved by the will of the people. And, truth be told, Smith probably would have been no better on the abortion issue than Christen. A fight with the AJC would have been distracting and likely accomplished nothing.
In an ideal world, the fact that she appointed a former Planned Parenthood board member to the high court would stop the criticism of the left-wing feminists who claim she wants to take away the right of women to choose. But I somehow doubt they will give her any credit. These were tough waters for Governor Palin to navigate, but it seems to me she chose the best available option for the economic health of Alaska.
GOPAlaska has a short announcement directly from the ADN article only mentioning that Christen is the 2nd woman named to the state’s sup court.
The ADN piece notes that he head of the Alaska Family Council, Jim Minnery, wrote Palin in support of the other candidate, Judge Eric Smith.
The family council plea, from group president Jim Minnery, said Smith was “more conservative” and that Christen would be “another activist on the Court.” In an interview, Minnery said that was the “general consensus” but he had no specifics.
“I’ll be seeing the governor tomorrow. We’ll have a good chat,” Minnery said after Christen’s appointment was announced. He said that Palin is introducing the speaker Thursday evening at a benefit lecture in Anchorage for the family council.
The group didn’t really approve of either finalist and believes the Judicial Council should allow Palin to pick from all qualified applicants, Minnery said. The Judicial Council’s bylaws direct them to nominate the “most qualified.” Former Gov. Frank Murkowski once rejected all three nominees sent to him, then, when the council wouldn’t send him more names, appointed from the list.
Congratulations to Judge Christen.
Cross-posted from Writes Like She Talks.