Capitol Alert

California’s top judge quits the Republican Party, citing Kavanaugh hearings

California’s Chief Justice tells ICE to stay out of courtrooms

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said federal immigration officers visiting California courthouses to look for undocumented immigrants has a "negative effect" on justice. She appeared at the state Capitol with Sen. Hannah
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California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said federal immigration officers visiting California courthouses to look for undocumented immigrants has a "negative effect" on justice. She appeared at the state Capitol with Sen. Hannah

California’s top judge has left the Republican Party, disclosing that she changed her voter registration because she has concerns about the state of the GOP.

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye told CALMatters that she made her decision after watching U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused by several women of sexual misconduct, to the United States Supreme Court. The Senate later voted to confirm Kavanaugh to the lifetime position.

“You can draw your own conclusions,” she told CALMatters.

Cantil-Sakauye was appointed to her position in 2010 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, becoming the first Filipina-American and second woman to serve in the post of chief justice.

She has sparred with the Trump administration over immigration enforcement. She wrote a letter to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year in which she asked him to keep immigration agents away from California courthouses.

Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has also been critical of the today’s Republican Party and its standard-bearer, President Donald Trump.

In May, a political consulting firm released data that showed independents now outnumber registered Republicans in California.

The chief justice’s departure from the GOP comes as Republicans try to regroup following a wave of high-profile losses in both in November’s midterm elections. Republicans lost seven of the congressional seats they held going into the election.

Orange County, the birthplace of the Reagan Revolution, will be represented exclusively by Democrats in the 116th United States Congress.

In the Legislature, Democrats are set to control 60 out of 80 seats in the Assembly and 29 out of 40 seats in the Senate, giving the Democratic Party a super-majority. Democrats also won all of California’s statewide elected offices, with Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom preparing to succeed Jerry Brown.

Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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