Here’s an interesting turn of events. With his poll numbers in the basement, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is now faced with appointing a justice to the California Supreme Court seat vacated by ultra-rightwing judge Janice Rogers Brown, who was appointed to the federal judiciary by Presdient Bush.
Schwarzenegger’s polls are especially bad among the independent voters – a group who, as much as any, put the governor in office. As one of the nation’s most liberal Republican leaders, independent voters are very important to the governor’s political future. However, a recent poll found that only 35 percent of independents approved of his job performance.
If he were to appoint a rightwing nutjob like Rogers Brown to fill the seat, he would risk alienating these voter even more. This increases the likelihood that he will appoint a liberal Republican – whom the MSM would call a “moderate” – or maybe even a Democrat to the state’s highest bench.
The Los Angeles Times handicaps it this way:
With Brown gone, the state high court now has five Republicans and one Democrat. Justices Marvin R. Baxter and Ming W. Chin are considered the most conservative. Justices Joyce L. Kennard, Kathryn Mickle Werdegar and Carlos R. Moreno are seen as moderates, and [Republican] Chief Justice [Ronald M.] George is often a swing vote.
The court is generally viewed as cautious, voting more conservatively on criminal issues and moderately on civil matters.
Legal experts anticipate that Schwarzenegger will consider African Americans to replace Brown, who was the only African American on the court. Among the potential candidates are state Court of Appeal Justice Vance W. Raye, a Republican and close friend of Brown who served as legal affairs secretary to former Gov. George Deukmejian.
So the body blow that the federal judiciary will suffer with the addition of Rogers Brown could redound to the benefit of California by making our state Supreme Court a bit more moderate.