Christen confirmed to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Judge Morgan Christen. (Photo courtesy Alaska Supreme Court)

The U-S Senate voted overwhelmingly 95-3 to confirm Judge Morgan Christen to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today (Thursday).

Alaska’s Senators sung her praises on the Senate floor before the vote. Republican Lisa Murkowski noted the ground-breaking significance Christen’s seating on the court.

“This is really, Mr. President an historic nomination,” said Murkowski. “Only two Alaskans have had an opportunity to serve on the 9th Circuit. And both those judges were somewhat predictably men.”

Christen had been a justice on the Alaska Supreme Court since 2009. She was appointed by former Republican Governor Sarah Palin. Earlier in her career, Christen was appointed to the state Superior Court bench by Democratic Governor Tony Knowles.

Democratic Senator Mark Begich – who recommended Christen to President Obama – spoke of her volunteer work and philanthropy in Alaska.

“I’ve known Morgan for years and am continually impressed by her keen legal mind, her outstanding record of public service and her ability to carve plenty of time out of her schedule for extensive volunteer work,” Begich said.

The seat on the 9th Circuit has been vacant for 18 months since Judge Andrew Kleinfeld took senior status. The court has jurisdiction over much of the west, including Alaska, California, Washington and Montana. It’s headquartered in San Francisco and is the largest of the nation’s 13 courts of appeals.

Judicial confirmations have been happening slowly in the Senate because they’ve become political cannon fodder. A handful of Republicans have intentionally held up votes, even when the judges’ actual nominations aren’t controversial.

The “no” votes for Christen came from conservative Republican Senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Rand Paul of Kentucky and David Vitter of Louisiana.