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Conservative
judge is replaced on California supreme court by
"centrist"

Conservative
judge is replaced on California supreme court by
"centrist"

Appellate judge Carol A. Corrigan, a former prosecutor, was sworn in as a justice on the California supreme court after being confirmed to replace the most conservative member of the state's highest court. Corrigan's first case, to be heard Tuesday, is one of the highest-profile on the docket since the 2005-2006 term began in September. The case concerns whether the city of Berkeley can refuse to provide free berthing at the Berkeley Marina to the Sea Scouts, a nonprofit group affiliated with the Boy Scouts. The city provides free docking to nonprofit groups but won't offer it to the Sea Scouts because of the group's discriminatory policy regarding gays. The group maintains that Berkeley is discriminating against it. The supreme court this term is likely to be asked to decide whether it's unconstitutional to bar same-sex couples from getting married. Corrigan, who was on the first district court of appeal in San Francisco, is a former trial judge and Alameda County prosecutor and was elevated to the appeals court in 1994 by Republican former governor Pete Wilson after changing her voter registration from Democrat to Republican. Immediately after her confirmation Wednesday, she told reporters she is a "centrist," that she could not discuss upcoming cases, and that judges "do not own the law." "Generally, Americans think everybody should be equal before the law," she said, noting she changed her party affiliation to Republican because it was a more "accurate" designation of her political beliefs. Corrigan, 57, was unanimously approved by the Commission on Judicial Appointments after a jovial 85-minute hearing attended by about a hundred judges, lawyers, and the other six members of the high court. Corrigan, who is white, Catholic, and and a native of Stockton, was selected by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to succeed Janice Rogers Brown, the seven-member court's most conservative judge and only black member. Brown resigned June 30 after the U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment to a federal appeals court in the District of Columbia. Three former colleagues from the Alameda County district attorney's office spoke on her behalf. She faced only one question from the panel when California attorney general Bill Lockyer asked her to name her favorite U.S. Supreme Court justice. "I can't claim to know all of them, so I would be hesitant to pick one," she said. The audience erupted in laughter, for about the 10th time, when she suggested she was evading the question. A former disgruntled litigant before her was the sole person to speak against her nomination, saying, "She can't be trusted." Schwarzenegger didn't see it that way. "I have full confidence she will continue to be a thorough, fair, and conscientious justice and will serve the people of California with honor and dignity as a member of our state's highest court," the governor said after the confirmation. (AP)

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