Leondra Kruger, a U.S. Justice Department lawyer who grew up in California but has not practiced law here, was confirmed to a seat on the California Supreme Court Monday.
Kruger, 38, is the third appointee on the seven-member court by Gov. Jerry Brown and she will likely tilt the moderately conservative court to the left.
During her hearing before the Commission on Judicial Appointments, she described herself as the daughter of a Jamaican-born physician and Jewish father.
Kruger joined the Solicitor General’s office during the administration of President George W. Bush and has argued a dozen cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She left there to take a post as deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ, Office of Legal Counsel in 2013.
In that post, she provides advice on constitutional issues to the President and agencies.
She was described as brilliant, “wickedly smart,” with “impeccable judgment” and “uncompromising integrity,” by supporters during the confirmation hearing.
During her hearing, Kruger said she was “deeply honored and deeply humbled” by Brown’s nomination to the court.
As to criticism she has never served as a judge or practiced law in California, she responded that over her career she has had the good fortune to be exposed to a wide variety of legal subjects. In her job as legal counsel she helped resolve disputes between agencies, and from that she said she “gained a deep appreciation of the importance of fair-mindedness, openness” and the important work that goes on in trial courts.
She was confirmed unanimously by the Commission comprised of the court’s Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala Harris and the state Court of Appeals senior Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein of the 2nd District.
She joins Brown appointees Justice Goodwin Liu, a former UC Berkeley law professor who was blocked by US Senate Republicans from appointment to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, a Stanford law professor and native of Mexico.
The state’s seven-member court is now comprised of four women, three Asian justices, one Hispanic and one black justice.
The other court members include Republican appointees: Cantil-Sakauye, and Carol Corrigan, both appointed by Gov. Arnold Swartzenegger, Kathryn Werdegar, appointed by Gov. George Deukmejian, Ming Chin, appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson.