Gavin Newsom wasted no time jumping into the fray yesterday, exhorting his followers to “VOTE” in a one-word tweet posted a mere four minutes after his tribute to Justice Ginsburg. Then came several shots at various U.S. Senators.
But this isn’t the only open Supreme Court seat. As Newsom opines on what should happen in Washington, D.C., he says he’ll announce his own pick for the California Supreme Court “very shortly.”
One reason this is important: a current Justice, Jerry Brown appointee Leondra R. Kruger, is already being touted as a potential successor to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
But the California Supreme Court makes rather consequential decisions in its own right; just last week, it swatted down two challenges to Newsom’s school closure order. The fate of our own lawsuit against Newsom could ultimately be up to the seven Justices.
With this pick, Newsom could place a reliable ally on the high court to rubber stamp his abuses of power and cement his one-man rule. For a Governor who’s shown a cavalier disregard for the independence of the judiciary – going so far as to remove from our case the judge who ruled against him – this is an alarming prospect.
He’s also replacing the most conservative Justice, a Pete Wilson appointee. That means 5 of the 7 Justices on the Court will now be Newsom/Brown appointees.
While the prospect of a 6-3 split on the United States Supreme Court is apparently apocalyptic to some, it would be a much greater affront to “balance” to have a monolithic California Supreme Court when there is so little balance elsewhere in our state government.
To be fair, there is one check on state supreme court Justices that doesn’t exist at the national level: California voters periodically get a chance to vote them out. But Jerry Brown found a way around that.
Brown made his final nomination as a lame duck after the 2018 election, installing a staff member on his way out of office. By waiting until the election was over, Brown denied voters a chance to accept or reject his nominee. (I guess he learned his lesson: in his first stint as Governor in the 1970s, voters rejected three of his Supreme Court picks).
I am preparing to give Gavin Newsom’s Supreme Court pick the fullest measure of scrutiny. We already have a Governor who seems to have forgotten the Constitution exists. The last thing we need is a Justice who will help him keep forgetting.
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