September 24, 2010

Justice Kennedy lauds retiring Chief Justice George at State Bar convention

Today’s Daily Journal has an article [subscription req’d] summarizing the remarks of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, praising Ron George for his tenure in overseeing the effort “to ensure that the Supreme Court of California maintains its position as one of the most preeminent legal tribunals in the free world.” The occasion was a talk at the California State Bar convention in Monterey this week. Justice George displayed his customary modesty in his thanks, and said his State of the Judiciary address on Saturday (tomorrow) would include thoughts on how he looks back on his time with the court.

One H&L attorney in attendance at the event was intrigued by Justice Kennedy’s comments about how our State’s initiative process affects the monumental task undertaken by the California Supreme Court. One might infer from the comments a signal as to how Kennedy would approach the constitutionality of California initiative measures should such an issue come before the US Supreme Court. Kennedy seemed to suggest that our initiative system may not be the best method for changing the law, but also that it was a valid exercise of democracy that must be respected. As the Daily Journal piece notes, Kennedy reflected that “The California Constitution has been amended by the will of the people some 500 times. That is a legitimate exercise, but the court has to understand these changes as they come”; “the court has to contend with those changes within a complex body of statutory law and a refined and uplifting case law jurisprudence.”

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