In December 2002 Frank Murkowski took the following oath: "I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Alaska, and that I will faithfully discharge my duties as governor to the best of my abilities" (Article Xll, section 5, of the Constitution of the State of Alaska). Article lV, section 5 of the state Constitution provides: "The governor shall fill any vacancy in an office of supreme court justice or superior court judge by appointing one of two or more persons nominated by the judicial council."
The records of the constitutional convention make it clear that the role of the judicial council in the appointment process is to reduce the influence of politics in that process and to place the emphasis on qualifications, on merit.
The vast majority of lawyers meet the minimum qualifications to be a judge. But the convention wanted the most qualified to be appointed - not those who had the best political connections - and it is likely that most Alaskans also want that result.
Gov. Murkowski may not like that result, but he is under a sworn duty to abide by it and to "faithfully discharge" his duty.
Rodger W. Pegues
Retired Superior Court Judge
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