SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Tani Cantil Sakauye, a Filipina American jurist, was nominated on Wednesday, July 21, by Gov. Arnold Scwarzenegger to become Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. The governor formally introduced Cantil Sakauye during a packed news conference under the Capitol dome.
In announcing his choice for Chief Justice, Gov. Scwarzenegger said in a statement that “she is a living example of the American Dream and when she is confirmed by the voters in November, Judge Cantil Sakauye will become California’s first Filipina chief justice, adding to our High Court’s already rich diversity.”
In her response, Cantil Sakauye said in part: “Being nominated to serve on the highest court in California is a dream come true. I deeply respect the inspirational and visionary work of Chief Justice Ronald George and hope to build upon it. As a jurist, woman and a Filipina, I am extremely grateful for the trust Governor Schwarznegger has placed in ime. I hope to show young people what they can achieve if they follow their dreams and reach for their full potential”.
Her husband, Police Lieutenant Mark Sakauye and their two daughters, were also at the news conference.
The announcement came a week after the current Chief Justice Ronald George, 70, declared he would not seek another12-year term to lead the state’s judiciary. California’s High Court now has six Republican appointees, including George, and one Democrat. Cantil-Sakauye, 50, is a registered Republican and is the second woman and first nonwhite ever named to that position. Her confirmation would also give the California Supreme Court a female majority for the first time in its history.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) applauded the nomination of Cantil Sakauye. In astatement, Joseph J. Centeno, president of the association that is based in Washington, D.C., said: “The nomination of Justice Cantil Sakauye is truly a historic moment for the Asian Pacific American legal community and I hope that her confirmation will proceed quickly.”
According to NAPABA, “Justice Cantil Sakauye has received high praise from Democrats and Republicans alike for her intellect, collegiality, and judicial temperament. Many people also have praised her administrative skills, an important quality for the Chief Justice position.”
Born in 1959 in Sacramento, the daughter of one-time Filipino farmworkers from Hawaii, Cantil Sakauye is currently an Associate Justice for the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento. She was appointed to that position by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2005. Before that, she was appointed by then Gov. Pete Wilson to serve as a superior court judge for the Sacramento County Superior Court from 1997-2004 and as a municipal court judge — appointed at the age of 30 — for the Sacramento County Municipal Court from 1990 to 1997.
Justice Cantil Sakauye attended C. K. McClatchy High School, and Sacramento City College, before she received her B.A. from the University of California, at Davis, graduating with honors in 1980.
After receiving her J.D. in 1984 from UC-Davis Martin Luther King Jr. School of Law, she worked as a deputy district attorney for the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office In 1988, she worked for Governor George Deukmejian, on his senior staff, in two consecutive capacities — as deputy legal affairs secretary and as a deputy legislative secretary.
Cantil-Sakauye still must be confirmed by the three-member Commission on Judicial Appointments before she is placed on the November ballot for voter approval for a 12-year term.
George is chair of that commission that also includes state Attorney General Jerry Brown and Appeal Court Justice Joan Dempsey Klein.