LifeSiteNews reports what we reported to you here, here, and here — namely that Gov. Palin had no other choice but to follow her state’s constitution and choose between the two names presented to her by the Alaska Judicial Council (AJC) for the vacancy on the Alaska Supreme Court. After requesting extensive dossiers on both candidates (an unusual request), she appointed the moderate Independent, Morgan Christen, over the leftwing Democrat environmental activist, Eric Smith.
Finally, the Alaska Family Council’s president, Jim Minnery, admits that there is no indication that Eric Smith is any more pro-life than Christen is.
Former Gov. Frank Murkowski attempted to fight the AJC over the names they submitted to him, but he was forced to back down. The system itself is flawed. There was nothing reasonably that Gov. Palin could do.
You will recall that Alaska uses a modified version of the Missouri Plan to select their judges. Here’s the short synopsis on the selection process:
- When there is a vacancy or impending vacancy on the Alaska Supreme Court, the Alaska Judicial Council (AJC) begins advertising the position. The AJC consists of seven people (3 non-attorneys appointed by the governor, 3 attorneys appointed by the Alaska Bar, and the Chief Justice of Alaska’s Supreme Court).
- Applicants are reviewed, interviewed, etc. by the AJC.
- At least two people are recommended by the AJC and sent on to the Governor. If no two people are deemed satisfactory, the AJC reposts the position.
- The Governor then has 60 days to select one of the recommended individuals for the appointment. That’s it. There is no confirmation by the Alaska Legislature or any other group. The appointed Alaska Supreme Court Justice will finish out the rest of his or her term and will then be voted on for reelection by the general public.
Gov. Palin expressed her thoughts on the selection process in a written interview with the Anchorage Daily News:
Palin: No system for selecting judges is perfect. [Electing / Governor appoints and Senate Confirms / Nominations by a Judicial Council and Governor appoints] The system we have is the one set up by our Constitution. We have to work within that framework and it has produced some very good judges. But there may be reasonable steps that could be taken to improve it.
Palin: My job is to follow the Constitution. I try to appoint the nominee that is able to approach every case with an open mind and the best knowledge, skills, and ability to analyze the legal issues and apply the law to the facts of the case. It is often a difficult decision to make. In the instance of the most recent Supreme Court seat, both candidates had a wealth of legal experience to offer the state.