Gov. Brown Nominates Leondra Kruger to Supreme Court

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on November 25, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Leondra Who? Leondra Kruger, that's who. Kruger was nominated by Governor Jerry Brown to fill the seat vacated by Justice Joyce Kennard, who retired in April. Kennard's seat has been vacant since then, requiring various justices of the courts of appeal to sit in on cases in order to fill the seventh seat.

Kruger's nomination is a "mind blower," reported the Los Angeles Times, because, at 38, she's barely old enough to hold the position. That's not to say she's not qualified: With papers chased from Harvard and Yale, and a former boss named John Paul Stevens, she's legal eagle enough to sit on the state's highest court.

Bona Fides

Kruger is from Los Angeles and has spent most of her career in government. She currently works in the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, but has also worked for the U.S. Solicitor General, where she argued 12 cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the government.

But during all that time, she hasn't been back to California. Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen told the Times that Kruger has never practiced law in California and hasn't been in California for the last 20 years, since she went to Harvard for her undergraduate degree. This, in itself, would be the biggest question surrounding a Kruger nomination: She's nominally from California, but apparently hasn't had that much invested in the state in a long time.

If confirmed (and why wouldn't she be?), Kruger would be the second African American appointed to the state's highest court. Justice Janice Rogers Brown, the court's first African American member, left in 2005 for a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In his second stint as governor, Brown has nominated diverse justices to the Supreme Court. In 2011, he nominated Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu, and earlier this year nominated Stanford law professor Mariano Florentino-Cuellar to the seat that Justice Marvin Baxter will vacate in January. Well, they're all ethnically diverse, anyway. Liu, Cuellar, and Kruger all graduated from Yale Law School, as did Brown himself.

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