September 1, 2010

Chief Justice nominee Cantil-Sakauye expresses optimism and a willingness to learn the job of Chief Justice from the “bottom up”

In one of our early posts, we pointed out that Justice Cantil-Sakauye appears to have had limited political experience consisting of two years on the staff of Governor George Deukmejian in the late 1980’s, plus the two years she has recently served on the Judicial Council of California. This could affect how she might carry out lobbying in Sacramento for the substantial funding necessary to operate California’s extensive court system.

This issue recently came up during Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s August 25 confirmation hearing before the Commission on Judicial Appointments. After the nominee delivered her remarks, Chief Justice Ronald M. George noted that the Chief Justice as the “head of a branch” of government has responsibilities beyond those of a jurist. Among those, he observed, are negotiating with the Governor and Legislature in Sacramento, which requires political and diplomatic skills. In response, the nominee said that her work in the Governor’s office had given her the opportunity to see “the executive vision” and how that differs from the more collaborative “legislative vision.” With regard to administering the courts, Cantil-Sakauye said she has always worked from the “bottom up” and that her experience as a Superior Court judge and on the Judicial Council will serve her well as she learns the role of Chief Justice. In an especially candid moment, Cantil-Sakauye finished her response to Chief Justice George by observing, “There have been many descriptions of this job but none of them said ‘Easy.’”

To view the entire confirmation hearing, click here.

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