Gavel-Legal

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Thursday, Jul. 24, 2014 – 9:52 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 24, 2014 – 10:07 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has undergone very obvious ideological cycles – depending on who happened to be in the White House when vacancies occurred.

Currently, the court has what might be called a 4-4-1 lineup, with four conservatives appointed by Republican presidents, four liberals appointed by Democrats and one GOP-appointed swing vote in Sacramento’s Anthony Kennedy.

California’s Supreme Court, arguably the nation’s most influential state court, has been no less prone to such swings. And with two appointments already and at least one more coming during his second governorship, Jerry Brown may be nudging it leftward – albeit not as far as his father Pat Brown did, nor as far as Brown 1.0 attempted to do.

This week, Brown nominated Stanford law professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, 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.

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