California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye Leaves the Republican Party: States “No Party Preference”

Mentions as “Disturbed” by the September 2018 Senate hearing of the Supreme Court’s latest associate justice: Brett Kavanaugh


By Ludy Ongkeko


“I was greatly disturbed by the Senate hearing itself and the process,” the Golden State’s Chief Justice stated when asked by a reporter of CAL MATTERS. 

“I say that, not as a chief justice, but as a female and a mother of two young women.”

Kavanaugh was accused of sexual misconduct including what one woman described as an attempted rape in high school. Two other women, it was learned,                       had similar claims against Kavanaugh, prior to his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Reportedly, Republican leadership “moved swiftly” to confirm Kavanaugh shortly after a brief investigation into the accusations.

Cantil-Sakauye’s decision in declaring her “no party preference,” arrived after what she described as “years of considering the move.”

Tracing her moving out of the party, the chief justice touched on her appointment to all her judicial positions by Republican governors, from a trial court jurist, to a court of             appeal justice and finally, on July 22, 2010, to the top of California’s highest court, nominated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

An alumna of the law school, University of California, Davis, Cantil-Sakauye started her legal career as a prosecutor.

In the recent past, she severely criticized the Trump administration for “stalking” courthouses to find people who entered the country legally.  Furthermore, she  never

sided with President Trump’s action(s) in attacking judges.

“Public discourse has become polarized and acrimonious,” Cantil-Sakauye declared.  As a woman coming from an “ethnic minority, that came from inclusion,”

is how she described her roots.

The chief justice indicated how she has been thinking about leaving the Republican party for “some time.”

” Kavanaugh,” she continued to explain, was “the last straw,” for her when she mulled over her decision about giving up her party affiliation.

She is likewise only the second one from her gender to occupy the chief justice’s chair in California.

California’s Chief Justice is a Filipino American. She is the 28th Chief Justice of California’s Supreme Court.

When asked why she did not join the Democratic Party, the chief justice replied: “I didn’t want to be labeled one way.  My values are more centrist in other matters.”

Cantil-Sakauye said the court would do whatever possible to quickly review California Governor Jerry Brown’s final clemency requests, even if he asks for commutations for             all death row prisoners.

It was learned that six former governors of states called on Brown in an Op-Ed (New York Times) to “follow their examples and empty Death Row.”

Reportedly, few minds expect Brown to heed the aforesaid call.

The California Constitution requires a majority of the California Supreme Court to consent to clemency requests for twice-convicted felons.  It was further learned that

California has the “largest number of felons” in the nation where there are 740 inmates on Death Row.

The California Supreme Court Chief Justice stated that “reviewing clemency requests for more than 700 inmates by January 7, 2019, would be a “heavy lift,” although              she did not state it was “impossible.”

A more deferential standard in Year 2018 meant to “review governors’ clemency recommendations,” arose.  Under the new standard, the court will consent to                         clemency  requests unless it believes they involve an “abuse of power.”

Despite what was considered a “lax standard,” the court has rejected at least three (3) of Brown’s requests.

In her seven (7) years in office, the chief justice stands out as one of the country’s leading advocates for equal access to justice, transparency, and the reformation

of state court funding models that “unfairly impost” the poor.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye serves as Chair of the Judicial Council and Chair of the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

In occupying the highest judicial post of the most populous state of the union, there is no doubt that the chief justice has lived up to her own creed in discharging not only her

duties, but likewise in the name of service to all regardless of political affiliation, a veritable advocate for equal justice to the Golden State’s citizenry.