The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 24, 2010
Why the Supremes said 'no,' then 'yes' to furlough review

McGeorge School of Law professor and private-practice attorney Athena Roussos is one of several legal experts we consult when writing about pivotal moments in furlough litigation. Last week we quoted Roussos in this story about the state Supreme Court taking up CASE v. Schwarzenegger.

This morning Roussos e-mailed The State Worker with a few more thoughts about why the court took the case less than a month after it rejected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's request that it consolidate and consider seven others. With her permission we're posting the e-mail here, unedited:

Dear Jon:

I was thinking about the Cal. Supreme Court's order granting review in the furlough case over the weekend. After thinking about this more, I think the court was hesitant to grant the governor's request to consolidate all the furlough cases and consider them without going through the court process for a couple of reasons. First, it is rare for the court to take up a case that has not made its way through the trial and appellate court system. If the lower court's decision is sound or adequately addresses the issues, then there may be no reason for the Supreme Court to act. So, it is much more typical for the Supreme Court to wait and see how the cases play out. Second, taking all of the cases at once would put a huge burden on the court. I am not familiar with all of the furlough cases, but I would imagine there are many different arguments being asserted and different issues that may apply to different cases. It is probably a very daunting task to try to decide all the cases at once.

The more recent decision from the 1st District, as I understand, is the first case to go through that appellate process. It seems to me that the justices may want to address that case and possibly provide guidance for the other courts hearing the other furlough cases. That is why they left open the possibility of addressing issues in the other furlough cases. But they do not have to address the issues in the other furlough cases if it doesn't make sense to do so.

I hope that makes sense. If I can answer any other questions, please feel free to contact me.

C. Athena Roussos
Attorney at Law

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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