Alaska Senate State Affairs committee approves plan to give governor control over Judicial Council/merit selection

Yesterday the Alaska Senate State Affairs approved SJR 3, a constitutional amendment to give the governor control over the state’s Judicial Council which serves as both the merit selection commission and the judicial performance evaluation commission which issues its recommendations prior to retention elections.

Presently the Council is made up of 7 members

  • 3 lawyers picked by bar
  • 3 nonlawyers picked by governor and confirmed by legislature
  • 1 chief justice as chair who votes to break ties

SJR 3 would give the governor a 6:3 advantage on members and require the lawyers picked by the bar be subject to legislative confirmation.

Similar plans died last year for failure to meet the 2/3rds majority required in the House and Senate, however it is possible this year that if all members of the Senate Majority Caucus approve the plan in the Senate (13 GOP Senators + 2 Democrats) that it will at least clear that chamber.