Wednesday, February 12, 2014

California Supreme Justice -- Immigrant from Indonesia -- to Retire


A previous ImmigrationProf Imnmigrant of the Day,Associate Justice Joyce L. Kennard has announced that she is retiring from the California Supreme Court.  She is the court's longest-serving justice, with a 25-year tenure.  Justice Kennard is well-known for her independent approach to the issues and her laser-like questioning during oral arguments.

Justice Kennard's life story is a compelling one.  She was born in Indonesia and confined in an internment camp during the Japanese occupation of the region. When she was a teenager, a tumor required doctors to amputate her right leg above the knee. She walks with a prosthesis and a cane.

"As an immigrant who came to this country at age 20 in 1961 with just the rudiments of an education, any success I achieved could have happened only in America, a land that encourages impossible dreams, a land where one can succeed against all odds," Kennard reportedly told Governor Brown in the letter announcing her retirement. "I never felt that America owed me anything. I am indebted to America for letting me in." Kennard, a voracious worker, said in an interview that she wanted time for other pursuits. "While my health is still good, I would like to spend time doing things with friends," she said.

Maura Dolan of the Los Angeles Times writes that Governor Jerry "Brown is likely to face strong pressure to replace Kennard with a Latino. Some Latino groups reacted furiously in 2011 when Brown chose Justice Goodwin Liu, a former UC Berkeley law professor, over Latino candidates. The seven-member court has no Latino or African American member, and Liu, a liberal, is its only Democratic appointee."

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