Historic Firsts on State High Courts
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
California's Supreme Court will have a female majority for the first time in its history if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's nominee for chief justice is confirmed by a state commission and by voters.
Schwarzenegger last week nominated Tani Cantil-Sakauye, an appellate judge, to become the state's top-ranking jurist after Ronald George, who has been chief justice since 1996, announced his retirement.
Besides putting women in the court's majority for the first time, Cantil-Sakauye also could become just the second woman — and the first minority — in the role of chief justice, the San Francisco Chronicle noted . Cantil-Sakauye is the Filipina-American daughter of farm workers and what Schwarzenegger called "a living example of the American dream." She would serve a 12-year term.
While much attention rightly will be focused on California's high court — which is among the most influential courts at any level in the nation — the Hawaii Supreme Court also could break barriers soon. Governor Linda Lingle last week nominated Katherine Leonard, another appellate judge, to become the first female to lead that court.
Lingle chose Leonard over five other candidates, all of them men. The nomination now proceeds to the state Senate for consideration, The Star-Advertiser of Honolulu reported . Leonard would serve a 10-year term if confirmed.