Judge Leondra R. Kruger of the Supreme Court of California has many of the qualifications typical of nominees for vacancies on the United States Supreme Court.
Like four of the current judges, she graduated from Yale Law School. Like six of the judges, she served as law clerk on the Supreme Court, for former Justice John Paul Stevens.
And she is well known in court, having served as a powerful deputy attorney general in the Obama administration, presenting 12 arguments on behalf of the federal government.
She’s unusual in at least one way, that is, she serves in a state court. Eight of the current justices served on federal appeals courts before being transferred to the Supreme Court. Justice Ninth, Elena Kagan, has no prior judicial service, although she has served as Harvard Law School dean and attorney general.
The ultimate justice lifted directly from a state court is Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, 1981.
Justice Kruger, 45, is on the younger side of the Supreme Court nominee. With one exception – Judge Clarence Thomas, 43 – all current judges are older than when they were nominated.
Justice Kruger grew up in the Los Angeles area, the daughter of two doctors. She attended high school in Pasadena before attending Harvard. After law school, where she was the first Black woman to hold the position of editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Review, she worked at prominent law firms and in the Department of Justice.
As acting deputy attorney general, she argued for a narrow interpretation of the “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination law, saying the court’s analysis should be essentially the same for whether the employer accused of discrimination is a private business or a church.
The Supreme Court unanimously rejected her views. “We cannot accept the remarkable view that the terms of religion have nothing to do with a religious organization freely choosing its own ministers,” said Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. write.
In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown of California, a Democrat, appointed Justice Kruger to the State Supreme Court. Legal analysts have called her cautious and deliberate, a trait she has embraced.
“My approach reflects the fact that we operate according to a system of precedents,” Justice Kruger told The Los Angeles Times in 2018. “I aim to do my job in a way that enhances the predictability and stability of the law and the public’s trust and confidence in the work of the courts.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/us/politics/justice-leondra-r-kruger.html Justice Leondra Kruger among possible Supreme Court candidates