After 202-day delay, Senate confirms judge for appeals-court seat
Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen, a Washington state native, won confirmation to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday.
By Carol J. Williams
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen, a Washington state native, won confirmation to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, ending a lengthy congressional standoff to become the second jurist approved for the powerful Western appeals court during the Obama administration.
Christen’s 202-day wait between her nomination and the Senate’s 95-3 vote was blamed on partisan politics that continue to hold up confirmation of 20 other federal judicial appointments, despite having been cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Voting no were Republicans Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Rand Paul of Kentucky and David Vitter of Louisiana.
Christen said she was pleased by the outcome. “It’s quite overwhelming and humbling, for sure,” she said. “I really didn’t know what to expect.”
She will remain in Anchorage and said she expects to do quite a bit of traveling in her new role. She expects to receive her judicial commission within a week or two and said her best guess is she’ll begin the new post with the San Francisco-based court in January.
Circuit judges get an annual salary of $184,500, according to 9th Circuit officials. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has also lamented the glacial pace of judicial confirmations to fill the more than 80 vacancies, or about one of every 10 seats.
Christen, 50, who was born in Chehalis, was named to the Alaska high court in 2009 by Gov. Sarah Palin, a choice largely determined by Alaska’s practice of having the state judicial council narrow potential candidates to two. Christen was opposed by some religious and anti-abortion groups because of her previous work as an attorney for Planned Parenthood.
Although initially nominated in Alaska by Sarah Palin – She was nominated by the most pro-abortion president- Barack Obama !!!! ( Read here ) “I am proud to nominate this outstanding candidate to serve on the United States Court of Appeals,” Obama said in a statement. “I am confident Justice Morgan Christen will serve the American people with integrity and distinction.”
FYI – When she submitted her application to become a state Supreme Court justice, Christen made no mention of the fact that she is a former board member of Planned Parenthood and served the pro-abortion group in the mid 1990s. Knowing that information, Jim Minnery, the director of the Alaska Family Council, a pro-life group, opposed her nomination because she would become “another activist on the Court.”