California will have a vacant seat on its Supreme Court in September. Justice Kathryn Werdegar announced she will retire after more than two decades on the state’s top court. It could represent a major swing in the court’s make-up.
Republican-appointed justices have held a majority on the court for decades, but with Justice Werdegar’s retirement, Governor Jerry Brown will have the opportunity to change that. He will nominate his fourth justice to the seven-member court. It’s a significant shift—before Brown took office six years ago, all but one of the last fifteen justices had been appointed by Republicans.
The last time the court was controlled by Democratic appointees, it was the early 1980s, and they were also appointed by Brown, in his first stint as governor.
Justice Werdegar’s departure also means the court will lose its longest-serving member. Governor Wilson nominated her in 1994, and voters subsequently approved her retention on the court twice.
Werdegar will step down August 31.