California's Top Judge Finds Her Voice—And Uses It To Call Out Trump's PoliciesCalifornia's Top Judge Finds Her Voice — And Uses It To Call Out Trump's Policiesby Maura Dolan of the Los Angeles TimesJuly 18, 2017
Judges and lawmakers had originally demeaned her as a lightweight whose first instinct when confronted with a problem was to create a task force. Many state legislators were openly dismissive of her. Seven years later though, the Supreme Court of California's Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye is not so easily dismissed. She has been speaking her mind, calling on the Trump administration to keep its immigration agents away from state courthouses
, as she was constantly hearing reports of anxious immigrants showing up. They wanted to know: How can I protect my kids if I am deported? If I obtain a restraining order against a violent boyfriend, will immigration authorities be tipped off to my existence? My children were born in this country — can they stay if I am deported?
Other judges were telling her that immigration agents were going into courthouses, intimidating immigrants there to testify or to deal with other legal matters. "This was ongoing," she said of the reports. Her aim, she said, was to get the federal government to add courts to a list of sites that agents should avoid. She didn't want immigrants to be afraid when seeking legal services.
In a letter to U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, she asked that immigration agents stop stalking immigrants illegally at California's courthouses. "Courthouses should not be used as bait in the necessary enforcement of our country's immigration laws," she wrote. The chief justices of Oregon, Washington and New Jersey's Supreme Courts have all endorsed her stance.
Calling Trump's criticism of federal judges "very threatening to the third branch of government," the Chief Justice is fast becoming one of the Trump administration's most vocal critics
, from a judiciary which in California is growing increasingly liberal. Her tenure has seen high turnover, with the older Republican appointees retiring and being replaced by more liberal picks made by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. By the end of the year, Brown will have chosen a majority of the court's judges. Some expect the Chief Justice to move even more to the left, influenced by the apparent shift of the California electorate away from harsher, punitive laws. So far, the California Supreme Court under her tenure has sided with environmentalists, open-government advocates and workers in many cases.
California's Top Judge Finds Her Voice—And Uses It To Call Out Trump's Policies