Palin to appoint third Alaska Supreme Court justice

Chris Rizo Apr. 19, 2009, 10:48am

Sarah Palin (R)

JUNEAU, Alaska (Legal Newsline)-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will have an opportunity to appoint a third justice to the state Supreme Court.

Once the first-term Republican governor makes an appointment to fill the vacancy to be left by Justice Robert Eastaugh, who has announced his retirement, Palin will have appointed a majority of the five-member court.

Eastaugh, 65, was appointed in 1994 by then-Gov. Wally Hickel. His retirement will take effect Nov. 2.

Last month, Palin appointed Anchorage Superior Court Judge Morgan Christen to the state's highest court. In 2007, she appointed Fairbanks attorney Daniel Winfree to the bench.

Christen's appointment drew the ire from some conservatives since she once served on the board of directors of abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

To get a seat on the Alaska Supreme Court, attorneys apply to the seven-member Alaska Judicial Council, which includes three attorneys, three members appointed by the governor, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The panel then provides the governor two or more names for consideration. Alaska's judicial selection process is nonpartisan.
Last week, Palin's nominee for Alaska attorney general was rejected by the Republican-led state Legislature.

Palin had tapped Wayne Anthony Ross, a leader of the National Rifle Association and two-time gubernatorial candidate, to serve as the state's next chief legal officer.

His nomination was rejected Thursday by a vote of 35-23 in a joint session of the Legislature. The vote marked the first time that a nominee to head an Alaska agency has failed confirmation.

Nine Republicans, including the House speaker and the Senate president, joined 26 Democrats in rejecting Ross's nomination.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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