In her resignation speech earlier this month, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had “given [her] absolute all” during her tenure, but that “you cannot, and should not do [the job] unless you have a full tank — plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges,” and she concluded, “I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.”

Another extremely taxing job is being California’s chief justice, as we’ve noted. Former Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye recently retired after completing a 12-year term in that position, a longer time leading the state’s judicial branch and its Supreme Court than all but four of her 27 predecessors. And she, like Ardern, faced “unexpected challenges” — in the Chief Justice’s case, dramatic budget cuts at the beginning of her service and the Covid pandemic at the end.

In an email exchange with At The Lectern, Cantil-Sakauye commented on the rigors of the chief’s job.

Responding to a question whether Prime Minister Ardern’s speech resonated with her, Cantil-Sakauye said, “it does resonate with me, however I believe that along with the full tank plus, the Chief Justice of California must have a very strong sense of direction and industry.”

When asked whether the chief justice’s job is one with an inherently shorter tenure expectancy than the job of a Supreme Court associate justice, she replied, “I don’t think the tenure expectancy of a chief justice versus an associate justice, is or could be typically shorter. In my view, the Chief Justice position, in leading the state, has many more interesting responsibilities and interactions than an associate Justice. And those experiences can keep the Chief quite energized for some time!”

At The Lectern reached Cantil-Sakauye at her new position leading the Public Policy Institute of California. (See here.) There, she moderated a program last week with the leaders of California’s Senate, President pro tem Toni G. Atkins and Minority Leader Brian Jones.