California Gov. Jerry Brown continues to face harsh criticism over his nomination of 38-year-old Leondra Kruger to serve on the California Supreme Court. Kruger has compiled an impressive legal career in a short time, including work at the U.S. Supreme Court, but has never served on the bench or practiced law in California. Like Brown, and like Brown’s previous two out-of-state nominees, she is a Yale Law graduate.
“Were there no qualified African Americans in California?” asked San Francisco’s first black mayor, Willie Brown over the weekend in the San Francisco Chronicle, noting that Kruger would add diversity to the bench but had no local record. He cited criticism from “a number of African American lawyers, law school professors and judges…all of whom wonder why the governor had to go all the way to the East Coast to find a justice.”
Brown has hit back. “The fact that I find someone outstanding doesn’t mean there aren’t other outstanding people,” he said, as reported by the Recorder, a California legal news service. “I just didn’t happen to pick them.” The Wall Street Journal rounded up other criticism from across the state. Most detractors praised Kruger’s intellectual ability but noted that she lacks many of the other important qualifications for the job.
One of Brown’s other nominees, Goodwin Liu, was blocked in the U.S. Senate after being nominated to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Republicans objected to Liu’s strident liberal legal opinions.
Though Brown has said he is not running for President, he is touted as a possible candidate. That is one reason his judicial choices are coming under increasing scrutiny, not just in California but also in the national media.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak