The Law: Another First for California

The California Supreme Court has a long history of pioneering decisions. Back in 1948, for example, it voided a law that banned interracial marriage —anticipating the U.S. Supreme Court by 19 years. Now Governor Jerry Brown is carrying that progressive tradition to the court itself. He has named Rose Elizabeth Bird, 40, California's Agriculture and Services Secretary, to be not only the first woman on the seven-member court but also the chief justice. At the same time, Brown appointed the court's first black: Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wiley W. Manuel, 49.

It is the appointment of Bird, a tall Arizona-born,...

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