The following comes from a Nov. 24 story on Cal Watchdog.
Governor Jerry Brown has nominated a U.S. Department of Justice official for a spot on the California Supreme Court.
On Monday, Brown nominated Leondra Kruger, a Yale Law School graduate, to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Justice Joyce L. Kennard, who left the court in April. If confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, Kruger would be Brown’s third appointee to the state’s highest court in as many years….
Democratic lawmakers were quick to embrace Kruger’s nomination to the position, which pays $225,342 per year.
“This is another outstanding appointment Governor Brown has made to the California Supreme Court,” Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to Ms. Kruger’s voice on the court as all three branches of our government work to ensure justice for all Californians.”
The choice of Kruger is likely to draw the ire of religious groups that have battled with her over First Amendment rights. While at the Solicitor General’s office, Kruger represented the Obama administration in 12 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School vs. EEOC.
In Hosanna, Kruger argued that federal discrimination laws should be applied to religious organizations. Courts have long recognized a ministerial exception, which exempts religious institutions from anti-discrimination laws in hiring practices. Several justices openly scoffed at Kruger’s arguments to overturn the precedent.
“That’s extraordinary. That’s extraordinary,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in one exchange with Kruger during oral arguments. “We’re talking here about the Free Exercise Clause and about the Establishment Clause, and you say they have no special application.”
A unanimous Supreme Court ultimately upheld the school’s First Amendment right to exercise its religious beliefs.
“The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote in the court’s opinion. “But so too is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith, and carry out their mission.”
To read the entire story, click here.