Judicial elections, democratic appointment (e.g., senate confirmation), and the Missouri Plan (a/k/a "merit selection")

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Friday, July 25, 2014

California Gov. Jerry Brown's Supreme Court Nominees: Diverse and Progressive

California's supreme court nominating process is an unusual form of democratic appointment because the governor's nominees are confirmed, not by the state senate, but by a three-person "Commission on Judicial Appointments" comprised of the state's Chief Justice, Attorney General, and a senior presiding justice of the state's Court of Appeal.

But it is still democratic appointment so it functions well to gradually move the court left or right with the long-term inclinations of the citizenry.

As Dan Walters writes in the Sacramento Bee:

This week, Brown nominated Stanford law professor Mariano-Florentino CuĂ©llar, whose record indicates he will be a judicial liberal, to succeed Marvin Baxter, the court’s most obviously conservative member.

Having already named another law professor, Goodwin Liu, to the court, and with another vacancy still to be filled, Brown’s appointees will soon hold three of the seven seats. Because his appointees are in their early 40s, they’ll be making new law for many years.

The remaining four Republican appointees, including Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, are relatively moderate. So the Brown appointees will tilt the court to the left with the likelihood that Brown will have one or two more appointments in his second term.

Dan Walters'  piece shows a strong sense of history and Gov. Brown's emphasis on ethnic diversity.

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