April 16, 2014

Will the court have seven permanent justices for its September calendar?

It’s now been over two months since Justice Kennard announced her retirement, which became effective just 11 days ago.  Next month will be the court’s first oral argument calendar without her, and will feature 12 different Court of Appeal justices serving as pro tems.

How many more calendars will the court be short a full complement of justices?  Based on all the Supreme Court appointments made by Governor Brown during this term of office (i.e., a sample size of one), the answer could be two or three, and it’s not a larger number only because the court doesn’t hear oral arguments in July or August.

The previous experience:  Justice Moreno announced his retirement in January 2011, and Governor Brown nominated Justice Liu to replace Moreno more than six months later.  If the same amount of time elapses between Justice Kennard’s announcement and the naming of her successor, it will be Labor Day before Governor Brown makes his nomination.  That would obviously not give the Commission on Judicial Appointments enough time to confirm the nominee before the court’s September calendar, which is scheduled for the same week as the projected nomination.

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