April 4, 2012

Proposed legislation would move the Supreme Court’s headquarters to Sacramento and require that it hear all of its cases there

As reported in The Recorder and the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, Assemblyman Martin Garrick (R-Carlsbad) has introduced legislation (amending AB 2501) that would require all state agencies and the judicial branch to relocate their headquarters to Sacramento by 2025. The proposed legislation also would require the Supreme Court to hear cases only “in the Sacramento metropolitan area.” If adopted, the legislation would be a radical shift, as the Court has long been headquartered in San Francisco. It also regularly hears arguments in Los Angeles—as it is doing this week—and in Sacramento. To educate the public about the judiciary’s important role, the Court also sometimes hits the road to hear argument elsewhere in the state, as we have mentioned here and here.

As recent budget cuts have underscored, some legislators seem not to recognize the judicial branch as a co-equal third branch of government, and Assemblyman Garrick’s bill appears to be another example of that mentality at work. For his part, Garrick has touted his bill as a government cost saving measure, arguing rents and property values are substantially lower in Sac-Town than in LA or San Francisco. That may well be true. But, according to the MetNews, his Chief of Staff has acknowledged that no analysis of the potential savings has yet been prepared. Proposing such drastic legislation before any study has been made of its likely impact seems like a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. But even if the legislation does pass, the move to Sacramento would be so far in the future that, as one commentator put it, by then the justices will be able to take the bullet train from the Bay Area to Sacramento.

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