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.
- The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska has a new target date for opening its cultural immersion park at the old Thane Ore House. Last year, Central Council officials had hoped it would open this summer. Now, they’re shooting for 2018, after the Juneau Assembly approved a 1.2-acre land lease making it possible Monday evening.
- William Quayle, Jr. is running for the District 1 Juneau Assembly seat. The municipal election is Oct. 4.
- Winds of that speed can uproot trees, knock branches down and damage property, including vessels and aircraft moored and tied down outdoors.
- The aurora borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights, were visible in much of Southeast Alaska late Wednesday and early Thursday. Share your Northern Lights photos with us.