March 29, 2017

“Jerry Brown’s legacy at the high court”

Former Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grodin writes in today’s Daily Journal [subscription] about the mark on the Supreme Court that Jerry Brown has made in his four non-consecutive terms as California’s governor.  Brown has already appointed ten justices, and will probably make his eleventh appointment after Justice Kathryn Werdegar retires in five months.

Grodin, whom Brown appointed to the court in 1982, touts not only the state high court’s national influence, but also its diversity.  He says, “Jerry Brown (along with other recent governors) has contributed to what is, in terms of gender and ethnic background, probably the most diverse court in the land.”  (Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye recently offered similar praise for Brown.)  Grodin goes on to state that the diversity “is more than a matter of symbol or political correctness.  There are studies which show, and I can attest from my own experience, that diversity has an effect on the nature and quality of discussion which takes place within a deliberative body, enhancing understanding and empathy.”

Grodin also includes a pitch to Brown to pick a judge to replace Justice Werdegar:  “At present, four of the seven justices (including Justice Werdegar) had prior judicial experience, and while the three most recent appointees have performed brilliantly, Justice Werdegar’s retirement provides an opportunity for Brown to retain that balance.  This state’s trial and appellate courts have an abundance of talent to choose from.”

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