The California Supreme Court, which is supposed to have seven justices, has had only six for more than seven months, an interval that may be unprecedented and is at least the longest in a half century. The reason is inaction by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Justice Joyce Kennard, the court’s longest-serving member, retired April 5, a decision she had announced nearly two months earlier. The vacancy gave Brown a chance to shift the composition of a court that has had only one Democratic appointee for more than two decades.
The governor moved quickly when another seat opened up with the announcement in June by Justice Marvin Baxter, the court’s leading conservative, that he would not seek another 12-year term. Five weeks later, Brown nominated Stanford law Professor Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, who was confirmed by a state commission and approved by the state’s voters Nov. 4 to take office in January.
But Brown — who at times in the past has questioned the need to fill vacant judgeships — hasn’t nominated Kennard’s successor or said why he hasn’t.
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