California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, who cast the lone dissenting vote in the court’s May 2009 6-1 ruling upholding the Prop 8 same-sex marriage ban, is retiring effective February 28.
“It has been a truly unique honor and privilege to have served the people of California as a judge for over twenty-four years and, together with my great colleagues on the Court, to have played a modest role in shaping California jurisprudence,” Moreno said in a statement.
He also stated, “I look forward to weighing my options in the private sector, including private practice and alternative dispute resolution, and broadening my civic involvement in public affairs.”
Holton said Moreno submitted a letter to Governor Jerry Brown yesterday.
Moreno, 62, was sworn in as an associate justice of the state Supreme Court on October 18, 2001, following his nomination by Governor Gray Davis. He’s married and has three children.
In a statement, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said Moreno is “a consummate professional, [and] a dedicated and gracious jurist.”
“He is known statewide for his distinguished service as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and for his leadership of the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care, which has brought improved practices and procedures in juvenile dependency cases,” she stated.
“I fully expected that Justice Moreno and I would serve together on the Supreme Court for at least another decade,” continued Cantil-Sakauye. “While I am saddened by his announcement, I am happy for him because his future is filled with possibilities.”
Explaining what happens next, Holton said that Brown would select people he might want to appoint to replace Moreno and send their names to the state Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.
That commission will provide Brown with their review of the candidates, and Brown will then make a nomination.
Then, the Commission on Judicial Appointments will review that nomination at a public hearing. The commission is chaired by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and also includes Attorney General Kamala Harris – a strong marriage equality supporter – and Justice Joan Dempsey Klein., the senior presiding justice of the Courts of Appeal
If the panel confirms them, the nominee could immediately be sworn in, said Holton, who declined to speculate how long the entire process could take.
Moreno didn’t respond to an e-mailed interview request.
Tuesday, a panel of federal appellate judges asked the state Supreme Court to advise it on whether Protectmarriage.com, the group behind Prop 8, can defend the anti-gay law in the federal courts. The state’s voters passed the measure in November 2008.
The issue of whether Protectmarriage.com have standing in the federal lawsuit has been a key issue in the case since both former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brown, serving as the state’s attorney general, refused to defend Prop 8 before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals when the three-judge panel heard oral arguments last month.
Harris, who was sworn in as the state’s attorney general Monday, has said she does not intend to switch course. Because neither of the state’s top law enforcement officers are willing to defend Prop 8, the anti-gay group has sought to do so in the federal lawsuit known as Perry vs. Schwarzenegger.
The issue of standing is key, as should it be determined that Protectmarriage.com has no right to intervene, then a ruling last summer by U.S. Chief District Court Judge Vaughn Walker that Prop 8 is unconstitutional would stand. It will likely be up to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the matter, though, as the losing side in the case is expected to appeal the appellate court’s ruling.