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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