Cal. Updates: Another Supreme Court Vacancy, Tenure Legislation

By William Peacock, Esq. on June 19, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Earlier this year, Justice Joyce Kennard announced that she would retire from the California Supreme Court. When she did, we took a look at the court's possible ideological shift, as well as other potential retirees. It's no surprise to us, then, that another one of the justices has decided to step aside: Justice Marvin Baxter.

And this month, a landmark ruling in a challenge to teacher tenure laws sent shockwaves through organized labor and teachers' unions. It's also wreaking havoc with pending state legislation.

Here, now are your updates.

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Justice Baxter Steps Aside

After 24 years on the court, the most conservative justice is now set to step aside, reports the Los Angeles Times.

How will this affect the court's makeup? Even with the Kennard and Baxter vacancies, the seven-member court will be dominated by Republican appointees, 4-3. That being said, as Kennard proved, the party affiliation of the Governor doesn't dictate a justice's later disposition.

Plus, with two more septuagenarians on the court, and Gov. Jerry Brown expected to win another term, there's a chance that the court will swing Democrat by the time Brown leaves office.

Tenure Expansion Bill Blocked

A mere week after a court ruled teacher tenure unconstitutional, a bill that would expand tenure protections for teachers hit a roadblock in committee, though it is set for reconsideration.

If passed, the bill would require small districts, which are currently exempt from tenure laws, to grant tenure to teachers after three years. All districts would be required to extend tenure after three years to vocational education teachers, nurses, psychologists and counselors as well, reports Reuters.

The bill passed the assembly, but failed to get the four votes required to make it out of the Senate's education committee.

According to Reuters, the bill, sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, is one vote shy of making it out of committee, but faces a tough path to passage. Members of the committee expressed worries that the measure would exacerbate the issues exposed in last week's ruling (inability to fire bad teachers, bad teachers being reassigned to poorer schools) and would put the legislature at odds with the court's ruling.

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