Talk about thinking outside the box. Gov. Jerry Brown nominated Leondra Kruger, a U.S. Justice Department lawyer to the California Supreme Court. She was admitted to the State Bar of California just a dozen years ago, works in Washington and has possibly never practiced law in California, according to comments for the LA Times by Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen, a state high court expert.
At 38, she would be the youngest member of the court in a century, if confirmed, and would be the only African American currently on the court. The last Black justice was Janice Rogers Brown, a conservative who was named to the federal court of appeals in Washington, DC by President George W. Bush.
Kruger is a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and she has no judicial experience. But what she has done is argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, lots of them.
This is Brown’s third nomination to the high court. Two others, Justice Goodwin Liu and former Stanford law professor Mariano-FLorentino Cuellar, who joined the court in January.
Kruger would fill the seat by retiring Justice Joyce Kennard.
The court, dominated by conservative appointees for years, is now philosophically closely divided making Kruger’s views critical on close cases. What her philosophical bent might be, if she joins the court, are not yet known.
Kruger must be confirmed by the three-member Commission on Judicial Appointments, consisting of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, the state’s senior presiding appellate justice.