Governor Jerry Brown has named Leondra Kruger, a former deputy assistant attorney general with the Obama administration, to replace California’s longest-serving Supreme Court justice, Joyce L. Kennard.
Kruger is a Los Angeles native and a Democrat like Brown. The announcement came Monday, according to the Sacramento Bee. The nomination of a Democrat — the third Brown has appointed in his third term — was expected, as Brown’s intention is to move the Supreme Court further to the left. If confirmed Kruger, 38, will become the first African American justice on the court in the almost 10 years since Justice Janice Rogers Brown left the bench in 2005.
The youngest-serving justice was Stanley Mosk, who was appointed by Jerry’s father, Governor Pat Brown, in 1964 at the age of 31.
Although Kruger’s predecessor Kennard, who retired in April, was a Republican appointee — having arrived on the judicial scene with the blessings of then-Governor Deukmejian — she bucked expectations, forging a more liberal path on the bench, as she often sided with the late liberal Justice Stanley Mosk to such a degree that the pair was nicknamed “the odd couple.”
“Leondra Kruger is a distinguished lawyer and uncommon student of the law,” Brown said in a prepared statement, notes the Bee. U.S. Attorney general Eric Holder also had choice words for Brown’s nominee, praising Kruger’s “remarkable judgement, tireless work ethic, and dedication to the highest ideals of public service.”
In 2007, Kruger was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School. She once clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court, and she has argued 12 cases for the federal government before the Supreme Court, according to the Bee.
Kruger will be joining Brown’s two previous appointees, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, 41, and Goodwin Liu, 44. She graduated from Yale Law school and completed her undergraduate degree at Harvard University. The Supreme Court position will reportedly pay $225,342 annually.