The Los Angeles Times reports it’s been almost six months since former Justice Kathryn Werdegar retired after more than 23 years, one of the longest runs in state history.
It wasn’t as though she quit suddenly, having given Brown more than five months’ notice.
As summer turned to fall and now winter, and the governor has still not appointed someone to take Werdegar’s place, leaving the court with six of its seven members. There is no deadline for Brown to make his selection.
This kind of cautious approach — on a decision that will profoundly affect California’s highest court — is perhaps one of the most significant changes between Brown 1.0, the man who governed from 1975 to 1983, and Brown 2.0, who’s been on the job since 2011.
The governor has selected men and women who had not previously served as judges. And the three justices he’s already chosen have the kind of legal resumes that seem to align with Brown’s cerebral approach to the law and governing.
While voters must agree to retain California Supreme Court justices at least every 12 years, each of Brown’s current appointees is in their 40s and poised to serve long enough to become one of his greatest legacies.
A number of items on the 2018 docket for the high court pose fascinating questions about life and work in the Golden State. From cases on the rules regarding overtime pay to local taxation to potential liabilities in the world of online advertising, the six justices could no doubt use some help.
And then there are a handful of cases involving public employee pensions, cases that have sparked great interest in California’s political world. The justices will be asked to rule on the core premise of the state’s long-standing principle that pension promises made on the day a public sector worker is hired can’t be taken back, even if that employee won’t retire until years later.