Supreme Court of California
Judicial Selection Method: Democratic Appointment (Gubernatorial)
7 Justices
12 year terms
State High Court Judicial Selection Process Legal Authority

  • Candidates are nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments.
  • The Commission on Judicial Appointments must confirm the candidate for the appointment to be effective.
    • The Commission consists of the Chief Justice of California, the Attorney General, and the Senior Presiding Justice on the Courts of Appeal.
  • The candidates confirmed by the Commission appear on a ballot.
  • At the end of a Justice’s term, the Justice is subject to a retention election and will continue for another term if the justice is retained.

Interim Vacancies

  • The Governor fills vacancies by appointment.
  • An appointee holds office until the Monday after January 1 following the first general election at which the appointee had the right to become a candidate or until an elected judge qualifies.
  • A nomination or appointment by the Governor is effective when confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

    Docket Watch

  • California Supreme Court Upholds Law Dissolving Redevelopment Agencies

    In California Redevelopment Assn. v. Matosantos the California Supreme Court upheld a law dissolving the state’s redevelopment agencies, while simultaneously striking down the agencies’ last vestige of hope, a pay-to-play companion bill. The court’s December 2011 decision thereby eliminated the state’s redevelopment agencies entirely.

  • California: Traditional Marriage Proponents Have Standing When Public Officials Refuse to Defend It

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit made headlines recently when a divided panel declared unconstitutional California’s Proposition 8, which affirmed that the state would recognize marriages only between one man and one woman.1 Before the Ninth Circuit could decide the merits, however, it had to deal with the fact that state officials had all declined to defend the law.2 In the district court below, the law was defended by the official proponents of Proposition 8, the organizers who put it on the 2008 ballot. On appeal, the plaintiffs attacking the law argued that its proponents lacked standing to defend it in court; to resolve any doubts about its jurisdiction, then, the Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the California Supreme Court.

  • California Supreme Court Broadly Construes Unfair Competition Law

    The principal consumer protection statute in California, known as the Unfair Competition Law (UCL),1 provides remedies against unfair competition, which the statute defines as “any unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business act or practice and unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising.”2 In recent decades, courts have construed this language broadly to encompass a host of business practices under the “unlawful, unfair or fraudulent” rubric.3 Counterbalancing this interpretive breadth, the remedies available under the UCL are limited. A plaintiff can seek injunctive relief or restitutionary disgorgement, but may not recover compensatory or punitive damages.

  • Gay Marriage Update: New England, Iowa, Wisconsin, and California

    Litigation regarding gay marriage and other gay rights issues continues throughout the several states, and it is increasingly likely that the Supreme Court of the United States will rule on whether the United States Constitution guarantees a right to gay marriage. This article, a synopsis of the status of gay marriage in various states, analyzes recent court decisions in hopes of illuminating the relevant legal arguments. This article also highlights the most well-organized efforts and key players in the campaigns to legalize gay marriage at the state level.

  • California 17200: Its Nature, Function, and Limits – Remarks by William L. Stern

    The forces that in 2004 gave rise to Prop 64 are, in microcosm, the same forces that are driving a larger debate about class actions that is being played out on the national stage. Th at debate is worthy of Socrates. But instead of debating the nature of Truth or Beauty, this contest might be better entitled, “What is the Nature and Purpose of Class Actions?”

  • California 17200: Its Nature, Function, and Limits – Remarks by Scott Leviant

    The debate surrounding use of the Unfair Competition Law, or UCL, has been framed by commentators favoring its curtailment as a choice between a deterrence model, where theoretical over-compensation is possible, and a tort model, where all class actions are viewed as a collection of individual actions. While this is an interesting framework in which to discuss the divergent positions of the defense and the plaintiff bar (as proxies, generally for consumer and corporate interests respectively), the dichotomy leaves important concepts out of that dialogue. Moreover, there are a broader set of interests that are at play in the ongoing struggle over the UCL: interests that extend well beyond the unfair competition law.

  • California 17200: Its Nature, Function, and Limits – Remarks by Jeremy Rosen

    In the last couple of years I have had many clients who have told me that they have either moved significant parts of their operations out of California or have made conscious decisions not to have any further expansion in California, but instead expand in other states. These decisions are made for a number of reasons, but primarily because of (1) California’s very pro-employee employment laws, (2) because the impact of section 17200, and (3) California’s fiscal crisis. Obviously the fiscal crisis and employment laws of California could be the subject of weeks of depressing discussion, but today we are focusing on Section 17200.

  • California 17200: Its Nature, Function, and Limits – Remarks by Shaun Martin

    The change in 2004 with Proposition 64 was a microcosm of what was going on in the nation. Prop 64 codified that you cannot sue unless you lost money and property. Absent this, there was no standing. How we approach standing has changed in the last twenty years and Prop 64 illustrates this.

  • A Survey of California Furlough Lawsuits

    The current economic crisis is forcing states to adopt creative means of balancing their budgets. California is again at the vanguard.1 The state has raised taxes, issued IOUs, and made deep budget cuts in numerous aspects of state government.2 Those efforts, however, have not been enough to bring the budget into balance. As a result, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger acted on his own authority to furlough state workers in an effort to save money.3 The Governor’s furlough decisions have resulted in the filing of numerous lawsuits, which are being resolved in conflicting ways by the California trial courts.

  • Judicial Election

    Judges are elected by popular vote.
  • Democratic Appointment

    Judges are appointed directly by a democratic body, or appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of some democratic body.