June 24, 2014

Article explores Governor Brown’s opportunity to reshape the Court with three appointments

In an article in Monday’s Daily Journal[subscription required], Emily Green explores the fact that Governor Brown now has the opportunity to appoint a total of three justices to the Supreme Court.  He appointed Justice Goodwin Liu in 2011, and now must appoint replacements for Justice Joyce Kennard (who retired in April) and Justice Marvin Baxter (who will not seek reelection this year).

So what kind of justices is Brown likely to appoint?  Green quotes First District Court of Appeal Justice J. Anthony Kline, who served as Brown’s legal affairs secretary in the 1970’s, as saying Brown wants to appoint more justices like Liu.  Green interprets that to mean accomplished progressive intellectuals who “stir[] the pot” and “‘question conventional attitudes.’”

Green describes the present Court (other than Justice Liu) as embodying “what might be described as old school Republicanism: business-friendly, but not overwhelmingly so, conservative on criminal cases, and moderately progressive on social issues.”  No doubt the addition of two more smart, left-leaning justices could cause some ripples and might alter the balance of power on such a court.  But only time will  tell if former Second District Court of Appeal Justice Miriam Vogel is correct to be concerned that, as a result, the Court may become “‘less friendly to business.’”

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