After the Commission on Judicial Appointments confirmed Governor Gavin Newsom’s appointment of Martin Jenkins to the Supreme Court yesterday, the court announced that its next oral arguments in three weeks would take place without him, and it said Jenkins wouldn’t be sworn in until sometime later in December.  This despite the state constitution saying an “appointment by the Governor is effective when confirmed by the Commission.”

I wondered whether Jenkins could still continue in his job as the Governor’s judicial appointments secretary after his appointment to the court had become “effective.”  Turns out, I didn’t read to the back end of the constitution until now.  Article XX, section 3, provides the “oath or affirmation” that must be taken by most “public officers . . ., executive, legislative, and judicial, . . . before they enter upon the duties of their respective offices.”

Although some justices in other jurisdictions get sworn in much more quickly, there has sometimes been a gap between a California justice’s confirmation and their swearing in.  For Justice Joshua Groban, the gap was 13 days; for Justice Leondra Kruger, it was 14 days; but for Justice Goodwin Liu, only one day elapsed.  After the Commission confirmed Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, more than four months went by before he was sworn in, but that was actually the minimum time, because he was nominated, not appointed, to the court, and thus had to wait first for the voters to elect him and then for the term of his predecessor, Justice Marvin Baxter, to expire.  (See here and here.)

So, other than the court maybe wanting to be at full strength for its December calendar and for a few more conferences that will occur before Jenkins takes his oath, there’s nothing wrong with Jenkins finishing up his work in the Governor’s office before moving (back) to the judicial branch.