Friday, December 16, 2011
U.S. Senate Confirms Morgan Christen to Ninth Circuit Seat
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The United States Senate yesterday confirmed Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen to an open seat on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a vote of 95-3.
Christen, 50, fills a vacancy created last June when Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld took senior status.
The Ninth Circuit is authorized 29 judgeships and has three current vacancies and one future vacancy. Christen is the first nominee to the court to be confirmed this year, and three other nominations currently await Senate action.
Christen was nominated for the seat on May 18, and was favorably reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 8.
She resides in Anchorage, and joined the Alaska high court after being tapped by then-Gov. Sarah Palin. Christen is the second woman to have served on that court.
Her appointment in 2009 came over strong objection from conservative Christians, arising in part from her service on the board of Planned Parenthood in the mid-1990s. The head of the Alaska Family Council reportedly sent an e-mail to thousands of people asking them to urge Palin to select another nominee for the high court in the days before the appointment was made.
Three conservative Republicans—Jim DeMint of South Carolina, David Vitter of Louisiana, and Rand Paul of Kentucky—cast the lone votes against the nominee.
Christen previously served as a judge of the Alaska Superior Court from 2001 to 2009, and was the presiding judge of the state’s Third Judicial District from 2005 to 2009.
A Washington native, Christen attended colleges in England, Switzerland and China before graduating from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s in international studies.
She obtained her law degree from San Francisco’s Golden Gate University School of Law in 1986, the year she moved to Alaska to begin a clerkship with Judge Brian Shortell of the Alaska Superior Court. In 1987, she joined the Anchorage office of the firm of Preston, Thorgrimson & Holman—now K & L Gates LLP—where she remained until 2001.
The current annual salary of a circuit judge is $184,500.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company