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Baxter announces plans to step down from California Supreme Court

Last month, Justice Marvin R. Baxter announced plans to retire in January after 24 years on the California Supreme Court. Baxter will be the second justice to retire from the court in less than a year. Justice Joyce L. Kennard stepped down April 5.

Justice Marvin Baxter
Justice Marvin R. Baxter will follow Justice Joyce L. Kennard into retirement - AP photo

A number of publications wrote articles outlining Baxter’s long judicial career and what two vacancies could mean for the court.

The Los Angeles Times noted that Baxter, 74, is considered to be the court’s most conservative member and outlined a list of contenders Gov. Jerry Brown might consider to take his place.

The San Francisco Chronicle called him a “genial and hard-working jurist,” adding that he has been a “reliable member of the conservative bloc on a court that has been closely divided in recent years between conservative and moderate-to-liberal factions.”

The Sacramento Bee spoke with former Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas who called Baxter a “solid person with intelligence and perseverance.

“And at my vaunted age of 87, I can say that it is not too bad just to sit back and contemplate life,” he told the paper. “But I know he owns a classic 1958 Corvette that may get some more attention.”

The Recorder (subscription only) offered a detailed retrospective of Baxter’s life from his upbringing in Sacramento, career as a prosecutor and years in private practice to his work on two of former Gov. George Deukmejian’s campaigns and his appointment to the Fifth District Court of Appeal.

The San Jose Mercury News said Baxter’s “retirement paves the way for perhaps the most profound shift in the state's high court since it turned conservative in the late 1980s.”

The Daily Journal (subscription only) quoted Santa Clara University School of Law professor Gerald Uelmen, who called Baxter’s departure a “game changer.”

“Baxter has been consistently the anchor of the more conservative wing of the court, so his replacement by a more moderate jurist could form a new majority,” he said.