Chief justice of California Supreme Court quits GOP over Kavanaugh confirmation

Tani Cantil-Sakauye also said she had become displeased with the party's national direction, as well as its course in her home state.
Image: Tani Cantil-Sakauye
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye delivers her State of the Judiciary address before a joint session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Sacramento on March 23, 2015.Rich Pedroncelli / AP file

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By Dartunorro Clark

Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye has reportedly renounced her Republican Party registration and re-registered as a no-party-preference voter, citing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Cantil-Sakauye made the comments in a phone interview on Thursday to CALmatters, a nonprofit news organization, saying that she had been thinking about Kavanaugh's September confirmation hearing.

"I’ve been thinking about it for some time," Cantil-Sakauye said of her decision. She said that she spoke with her husband and friends about the hearing and their conclusion was that "you didn’t leave the party — the party left you."

Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor, testified before Congress in September that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982. Kavanaugh, who also testified, strongly denied it. He was narrowly confirmed in October by the Senate to the Supreme Court in a 50-48 vote.

“I felt compelled to make a choice now. It better suits what I do and how I approach issues," Cantil-Sakauye told CALmatters, adding that she has become displeased with the GOP's direction nationally and in her home state.

Cantil-Sakauye, 59, was tapped by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, in 2011 to be the state’s top judge. She is the first Asian-Filipina American and the second woman to serve as chief justice of California's Supreme Court, according to her official biography.

Cantil-Sakauye has excoriated President Donald Trump for being harmful to the "rule of law" because of his attacks on judges.

“The people uttering those are doing damage, short-term and long-term, to courts, to the rule of law,” Cantil-Sakauye said this week.

She was referring to questions regarding Trump's statement last month that a ruling against the administration's immigration policy was made by "an Obama judge."

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts also rebutted Trump's remarks at the time in a rare statement, saying: "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them."