Heartache: Palin appoints former Planned Parenthood board member to Supreme Court
posted at 1:31 pm on March 6, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Yeah, but. Sarah Palin did appoint Morgan Christen to the Supreme Court, but she didn’t have many other options, either. The Alaska Daily News gives a straightforward account:
Palin announced the appointment of Anchorage Superior Court Judge Morgan Christen this week.
Christen was one of two judges recommended for the post by the Alaska Judicial Council.
She will be the second woman to serve on the state’s high court. Gov. Tony Knowles appointed current Chief Justice Dana Fabe in 1996.
A similar issue arose with Rudy Giuliani during the campaign. Giuliani, who is admittedly pro-choice anyway, came under fire for the judges he appointed as Mayor, some of whom did not share his stated philosophy of judicial “restraint”. Giuliani had to explain that the process in New York City is different than that in Washington DC; the executive gets a list of candidates from an independent body and has to choose one of those nominated for an open post.
Palin has a month and a half to choose the next member of Alaska’s State Supreme Court. The problem is the two choices she has to pick from are justices who don’t align with her conservative views. Alaska’s judges are selected using the Missouri Plan, which combines election and appointment in choosing the judge. The Alaska Judicial Council selects the nominees from which the governor can then make an appointment. A total of six judges applied, but only two were elected by the Judicial Council, Eric Smith, considered very liberal, and Morgan Christen, who is viewed as more of a moderate.
Creative Minority thinks that assessment is backwards:
And from what I understand, neither option was great but of the two, it would appear that Palin may have picked the more liberal of the two, at least according to Alaska Family Council’s Jim Minnery. Minnery wrote Palin in support of the other candidate, Judge Eric Smith saying Smith was “more conservative” and that Christen would be “another activist on the Court.”
This would not seem to be good news for those who love Sarah. There’s one thing conservatives take seriously – and that’s judges.
And the ADN explains that Palin has issues with both:
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.
Which was worse, Christen or Smith? It sounds like Palin didn’t have much of a choice in any case. She could have pushed back by refusing to appoint either, but her predecessor tried that and got roasted for it. I’d have hoped that Palin would have at least attempted to press the AJC to give her a better range of nominees from which to choose.
This case demonstrates the problem with establishing independent boards to provide essentially political decisions. The people of Alaska elected Palin to make these kinds of choices, and at least she has direct accountability to them. The AJC has no accountability for making bad decisions at all. Maybe Alaskans should consider a more direct system instead.
Update: Conservatives 4 Palin have more on this. They’re complaining in the comments that they had it first, but I got the email from the other two sites and worked off of their sites. Happy to link and we do our best to credit the sources, but we dance with the ones that brung us, fellas.