Janice Rogers Brown is confirmed as the first Black woman to be a California supreme court judge. Her nomination is met with criticism.
1996 (May 2)
California governor Pete Wilson's appointment of appellate court judge Janice Rogers Brown to the California Supreme Court was confirmed. Brown, the daughter of Alabama sharecroppers, became the first Black woman to serve on the state's highest court. Although Justice Brown's nomination was unanimously confirmed, it was not without criticism. The State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation claimed that "Brown was unqualified because of limited experience as a lawyer and a judge." The Commission added she had a "tendency to inject her political and philosophical views into her court opinions." Wilson described his nomination as being "clearly the right choice at the right time...." Justice Brown had also been characterized as more conservative than the other California Supreme Court justices. Prior to her 1994 appellate court appointment, she served the state as Governor Wilson's legal affairs secretary, where she filed suit against the federal government seeking reimbursement of costs for providing public services to illegal immigrants. Previously, Brown served as California's deputy attorney general and deputy legislature counsel for the state Legislature Counsel Bureau. In 1974, she received her bachelor's degree from California State University and, in 1977, a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.