California’s Governor Jerry Brown Will Name Another Supreme Court Justice This Year

To say California Governor Jerry Brown is on a political and environmental roll is an understatement. Brown is turning up at global climate change meetings around the world, and he is hosting a climate change summit this year in California. Brown is a popular Democratic governor, but he knows how to function in a Republican world. He outsmarts and out works his political and environmental opponents. Brown is a California man with a California political pedigree. And he uses that pedigree, in a good way, to shape the state’s future. Some of that shaping, or reshaping, depending on who is talking about Brown’s accomplishments, will be obvious when Supreme Court Justice Kathryn Werdegar retires at the end of August. Brown will appoint his fourth justice to California’s Supreme Court. That appointment will end years of a Republican majority that makes California Democrats bite their tongues.
Brown’s new justice could be the beginning of more bad news for California businesses. California already has costly legal innovations in place. The strict liability and bystander injury clauses make tort liability insurance more expensive not only in California but in other states that implement California’s legal standards.
When Brown won the governor’s election in the 1970s, Jerry was “Governor Moonbeam” to his critics. Brown’s father was a popular state governor, but Jerry was a new age politician in those days. He was a Catholic Buddhist with a liberal state of mind, according to the same critics. But Brown went to work, and he was instrumental in changing California politics. But even though the people of California like Brown, California businesses are not big fans, because he usually puts a dent in their bottom line profits by pushing laws that cost businesses more.
The Brown appointees on the Supreme Court are all Yale Law School graduates. Yale is Brown’s alma mater, so the best bet is Brown will appoint another Yale graduate when Supreme Court Justice Kathryn Werdegar retires. According to some reports, Associate Justice Jeffrey Johnson, a former prosecutor, and a Duke and Yale Law School graduate, is Brown’s first choice to replace Werdegar, but that’s not a sure bet. Brown could pick someone else that is not part of the Yale bromance. But whatever Brown decides to do, he will get the support of the people, but California businesses may pay a high price for that loyalty.