Are Walker’s Appointments being “Merrick Garland-ed”?

Yesterday, the Alaska State Senate abruptly cancelled today’s joint session of the legislature.  The combined State House and State Senate were to gather together to hold confirmation votes on various appointments to boards, commissions and staff positions.

Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth’s confirmation has drawn the most attention.  When word got out yesterday that the joint session was canceled, many observers thought it meant that Lindemuth had the votes for confirmation, and that Senate President Pete Kelly was needing more time to try to dislodge her support.

Jahna Lindemuth

But then came word that there would be no vote at all on any of the folks needing confirmation before the end of the regular session.  Day 90, the statutory end of the session, is Easter Sunday; that is just three days away.  If no vote is taken, is Lindemuth effectively removed as AG?  Is Drew Phoenix, the target of homophobic Alaska Family Council’s angst, denied a seat on the Human Rights Commission?

Drew Phoenix

The Midnight Sun is taking bets that Senator Pete Kelly has a legal opinion that says if the individual is not confirmed because of a lack of a vote being taken, then it’s effectively the same as being voted down.  It’s a dramatic move.   It may deny Lindemuth’s and Phoenix’s confirmation, but it also denies Adam Trombley’s confirmation to the Board of Game, for instance.

The “Do Nothing” legislature was a theme in last Summer and Fall’s election campaigns.  If the State Senate refuses to perform their constitutional duties on confirmations, do they risk bringing that criticism back from the campaign graveyard to haunt them?  The US Senate’s Republicans essentially did the same to Obama’s Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland, and as a strategy, it paid off.

We may see a battle of legal opinions between the Governor and State Senate soon.  Or perhaps Governor Walker will call a special session to hold confirmation votes.  Our favorite is that the State Senate wins the battle, the confirmations are treated as “no” votes, and the nominees lose their positions—and then Governor Walker reappoints every single one of them the next day and the process starts over.

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1 Comment on "Are Walker’s Appointments being “Merrick Garland-ed”?"

  1. When it comes to Walkers appointments, one has to wonder: what obligation does the Republican Senate have to follow procedure for a Democratic Governor who attained his seat under false pretenses? Walker ran as a Republican, shifted to Independent when it was clear he wouldn’t win as a Republican, and has since, governed like a Democrat (expanding entitlements, allowing the state to be divided into tribal and non tribal territory {contrary to ANILCA}, seeking higher tax rates, refusing to meaningfully shrink the state budget… etc)…. The opposition to Lindemuth could not be less perplexing: in stating she is working for a “win-win” she is acknowledging a dereliction of the office of Attorney General, which requires her to follow the law equally for all Alaskans. She is a former tribal attorney who, when negotiating – ostensibly on behalf of the SOA – to give tribes a legal advantage over the rights of all Alaskans, she reveals the bias and conflict that Sen Sen Kelly is concerned about. The Senate is right to not confirm her.

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