Leondra Kruger

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Leondra Kruger
Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court
Assumed office
January 5, 2015
Appointed byJerry Brown
Preceded byJoyce L. Kennard
Acting Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States
In office
May 17, 2010 – June 9, 2011
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byNeal Katyal
Succeeded byNeal Katyal
Personal details
Leondra Reid Kruger

(1976-07-28) July 28, 1976 (age 47)
Glendale, California, U.S.[1]
SpouseBrian Hauck
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Yale University (JD)

Leondra Reid Kruger (born July 28, 1976) is an American judge who serves as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of California. A native of South Pasadena, California, she graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School. Kruger then clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and subsequently worked in private practice and as a professor. She served as acting Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States from 2010 to 2011, and worked in the Office of Legal Counsel. In 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown nominated Kruger to a seat on the Supreme Court of California. She was confirmed, and was sworn in on January 5, 2015.

Kruger was considered a potential nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States, following the announcement of Justice Stephen Breyer's intention to retire in 2022.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Glendale, California,[1][4] Kruger grew up in South Pasadena.[5] Her mother, Audrey Reid, immigrated to the United States from Jamaica,[6] and her late father, Leon Kruger, was an American Jew whose parents had immigrated to the U.S. from Europe.[7] Kruger's parents were both pediatricians.[8] She attended Polytechnic School in Pasadena, California, and was a National Merit Scholar.[4][9] She then earned a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from Harvard University, where she wrote for The Harvard Crimson and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.[10][11][12] She then attended Yale Law School, graduating in 2001 with a Juris Doctor. Kruger was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal, the first Black woman ever to hold the position.[13][14]

Legal career[edit]

After law school, Kruger spent a year as an associate at the law firm Jenner & Block. She then clerked for Judge David Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 2002 to 2003 and for Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court from 2003 to 2004.[15][12] She then returned to private practice for two years at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr in Washington, D.C.[16] She was a visiting assistant professor in 2007 at the University of Chicago Law School.[16][17]

From 2007 to 2013, Kruger was an assistant to the United States Solicitor General, and the acting principal deputy solicitor general.[12] She argued 12 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court,[18] and worked on a case defending the Affordable Care Act, National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius.[19]

In 2013, Kruger became a deputy assistant attorney general at the United States Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel.[15]

Judicial career[edit]

Kruger in 2015, shortly after her confirmation to the California Supreme Court

On November 24, 2014, then Governor Jerry Brown announced the appointment of Kruger to the California Supreme Court.[4] On her questionnaire for the high court position, Kruger acknowledged she had never before taken a deposition and that, “I have not tried any cases to verdict or judgment.”[20] Although she had no prior judicial experience, her selection was publicly praised by then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Obama's then-U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., Obama's former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, and former Solicitor General (under President George W. Bush) Paul Clement.[21]

Kruger was confirmed on December 29, 2014, and replaced Associate Justice Joyce L. Kennard, who retired.[22][23] She was sworn in on January 5, 2015, and became the court's second African-American woman justice, following Janice Rogers Brown.[24][25][16] At 38, she was the youngest appointee[a] to the court in recent years and the third youngest appointee to the court ever, after Hugh C. Murray and M. C. Sloss.[26][15] In November 2015, Kruger delivered the annual Bernard E. Witkin lecture before the Los Angeles County Bar Association.[17]

On the court, Kruger has emerged as an incrementalist,[27] stating that she views her role as, at least in part, "enhanc[ing] the predictability and stability of the law" to improve "public confidence and trust in the work of the courts."[28] She is sometimes considered one of the swing votes when the court is occasionally divided,[29] and is seen as a moderate liberal on the progressive-leaning seven-member court.[30]

Notable court opinions[edit]

National Lawyers Guild v. City of Hayward (2020) 9 Cal.5th 488, an opinion interpreting the California Public Records Act as not allowing a local agency to charge the costs of redacting statutorily exempt material from otherwise disclosable electronic records, and thereby clearing the way for members of the public to secure body camera footage from police officers.[31] The Electronic Frontier Foundation praised the decision as "an unqualified victory for government transparency."[32]

People v. Lopez (2019) 8 Cal.5th 353, which rejected warrantless vehicle searches for personal identification documents during traffic stops.[33][34]

People v. Buza (2018) 4 Cal.5th 658, authored the majority opinion in a 4-3 decision applying settled United States Supreme Court precedent and leaving for another day a broader constitutional challenge to the 2004 California Proposition 69, which requires police to collect DNA samples from all persons who are arrested for felony offenses.[35] The law has led to the storing of DNA profiles of tens of thousands of individuals arrested but never charged or convicted of a crime.[36][37]

California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland (2017) 3 Cal.5th 924, authored the concurring and dissenting opinion in a 5-2 decision in which Kruger would have applied the state constitutional voter approval requirements, including the supermajority vote requirements, of 1996 California Proposition 218 (“Right to Vote on Taxes Act” and the progeny of 1978 California Proposition 13)[38] to local tax increases enacted via the initiative power.[39][40]

Barry v. State Bar of California (2017) 2 Cal.5th 318, concerning subject matter jurisdiction and California's anti-SLAPP statute.[41][42]

U.S. Supreme Court consideration[edit]

After President Joe Biden made a campaign pledge to appoint the first African American woman to the United States Supreme Court, Kruger became the subject of speculation as a potential future nominee (Ketanji Brown Jackson was ultimately nominated to the seat).[2] If she had been nominated to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, she would have continued the tradition of the court's "Jewish seat." While Justice Elena Kagan is also Jewish, Breyer sits in a seat historically assigned to a Jew for a large part of the past 100 years. The seat was held by Benjamin Cardozo, Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, and Breyer, but also was occupied from 1970 to 1994 by the Methodist Harry Blackmun.[43][44]

In February 2022, Kruger faced questions from the Biden administration regarding her interpretation of religious liberty, particularly in relation to her role in arguing the case Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at the Supreme Court in 2012.[45]

Personal life[edit]

Kruger is married to Brian Hauck, a partner at Jenner & Block in San Francisco.[28][46] Her young son attended her swearing-in ceremony to the California Supreme Court. About a year later, she gave birth to her second child, a girl, becoming the first member of the court to give birth while serving on it.[28][46] She has two half-siblings.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Other, younger members of the court in the past were elected: David S. Terry, at 32; Erskine Mayo Ross, at 34; Terry W. Ward, at 37; and Van R. Paterson, at 38.
  1. ^ a b Dolan, Maura (November 25, 2014). "Leondra R. Kruger appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to state Supreme Court". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ a b Savage, David (April 2, 2020). "Biden says he'll put a black woman on Supreme Court. This California justice is a leading candidate". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  3. ^ Liptak, Adam (January 26, 2022). "Justice Leondra R. Kruger of the California Supreme Court is a possible nominee". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Siders, David (November 24, 2014). "Gov. Jerry Brown names Obama administration lawyer to California Supreme Court". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  5. ^ Dolan, Maura (November 25, 2014). "Brown again surprises with court nominee". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Leondra Kruger: New California Supreme Court Judge Boasts Jamaican Parent". Jamaica Gleaner Newspaper. December 23, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
  7. ^ "Leondra Kruger confirmed to California Supreme Court". Sacramento Bee. December 22, 2014. She credited her late father, the son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe
  8. ^ Miller, Cheryl (January 26, 2022). "Focus Sharpens on Leondra Kruger in Wake of Justice Breyer's Resignation". National Law Journal. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Hubler, Shawn; Benner, Katie (February 6, 2022). "California's Supreme Court Was Split. Leondra Kruger Found the Center". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  10. ^ Dolan, Maura (November 24, 2014). "Leondra R. Kruger appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to state Supreme Court". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  11. ^ "Writer: Leondra Kruger". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c "Background of court nominee Leondra Kruger". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Associated Press. November 14, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  13. ^ "Masthead, vol 110". Yale Law Journal. October 2000. Retrieved September 13, 2017. Leondra Reid Kruger, Editor-in-chief
  14. ^ "Conversation with Justice Leondra Kruger '01, sponsored by Yale Law Journal". Yale Law School. November 17, 2016. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c Dolan, Maura (November 24, 2014). "Expected California Supreme Court nominee Leondra Kruger a 'mind blower'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c "Second Black woman confirmed to state supreme court". Our Weekly (Los Angeles, CA). January 22, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Leondra Kruger '01, Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, Delivered the 2015 Bernard Witkin Lecture". Yale Law School News. November 12, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  18. ^ Little, Rory (January 12, 2015). "What can we learn from Justice Leondra Kruger's arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court?". SCOCA Blog. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  19. ^ "Brief for Respondents Department of Health and Human Services et al".
  20. ^ Wilson, Scott (February 17, 2022). "On the California Supreme Court, Leondra Kruger is known for her 'persuasive powers' among the justices". Washington Post.
  21. ^ "Governor Brown Selects Leondra R. Kruger for California Supreme Court". November 24, 2015.
  22. ^ Mintz, Howard (December 22, 2014). "California Supreme Court: Leondra Kruger easily confirmed as new justice". mercurynews.com. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  23. ^ Schaffer, Scott; Brekke, Dan (November 24, 2015). "Gov. Brown's Surprise Pick to Fill Supreme Court Vacancy". KQED News. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  24. ^ "Governor Brown to Swear in Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar and Leondra Kruger to the California Supreme Court". December 22, 2014. Archived from the original on December 19, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  25. ^ Egelko, Bob (July 28, 2017). "Why you should care about who will sit on California's Supreme Court". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  26. ^ Johnson, J. Edward (1963). History of the California Supreme Court: The Justices 1850-1900, vol 1 (PDF). San Francisco, CA: Bender Moss Co. p. 54. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 27, 2016. Retrieved August 14, 2017. Murray had been appointed to the Court at age twenty-six, was Chief Justice at thirty, and died when he was thirty-two.
  27. ^ Kaiser, David. "Opinion Analysis: People v. Buza". SCOCAblog.
  28. ^ a b c Dolan, Maura (June 1, 2018). "As Gov. Jerry Brown ponders a California Supreme Court vacancy, one of his earlier appointees defies expectations". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  29. ^ Godfrey, Elaine (January 26, 2022). "Biden's Likeliest Supreme Court Pick". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  30. ^ Chung, Andrew (January 26, 2022). "Potential Biden Supreme Court pick Leondra Kruger known as moderate in California". Reuters. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  31. ^ National Lawyers Guild v. City of Hayward (2020) 9 Cal.5th 488 [464 P.3d 594].
  32. ^ Mackey, Dave Maass and Aaron (June 1, 2020). "California Cops Can No Longer Pass the Cost of Digital Redaction onto Public Records Requesters". Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  33. ^ People v. Lopez (2019) 8 Cal.5th 353 [453 P.3d 150].
  34. ^ "California Cops Can't Search Vehicles for ID Without Warrant (1)". news.bloomberglaw.com. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  35. ^ People v. Buza (2018) 4 Cal.5th 658 [413 P.3d 1132].
  36. ^ Dolan, Maura (April 2, 2018). "California Supreme Court lets stand controversial law allowing DNA collection upon arrest". Los Angeles Times.
  37. ^ "Editorial: A DNA decision undermines Californians' privacy and their presumption of innocence". Los Angeles Times. April 4, 2018.
  38. ^ Apartment Assn. of Los Angeles County, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (2001) 24 Cal.4th 830, 838 [14 P.3d 930].
  39. ^ California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland (2017) 3 Cal.5th 924, 948-960 [401 P.3d 49].
  40. ^ Stewart, Joshua (August 29, 2017). "California Supreme Court suggests lower bar for passing tax increases through ballot initiatives". San Diego Union-Tribune.
  41. ^ Barry v. State Bar of California, (2017) 2 Cal.5th 318 [386 P.3d 788].
  42. ^ "Supreme Court Says: Anti-SLAPP Not Dependent on Subject Matter Jurisdiction". Metropolitan News-Enterprise. January 6, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  43. ^ Fox, Blake (February 22, 2021). "This Black Jew Could Be The Next Supreme Court Justice". The Times of Israel. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  44. ^ Rudin, Ken (May 28, 2009). "The 'Jewish Seat' On The Supreme Court". NPR. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  45. ^ "Potential Supreme Court nominee faces questions on religious rights case". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  46. ^ a b Miller, Cheryl (March 2, 2016). "California Justice Leondra Kruger Gives Birth to Daughter". The Recorder. ALM Media Properties, LLC. Retrieved September 30, 2017.

External links[edit]

Media related to Leondra Kruger at Wikimedia Commons


Legal offices
Preceded by Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California