The Modern California Supreme Court: Progressivism and Practical Constraints

The California Supreme Court decides legal issues affecting a population of more than 30 million people, spread across 156,000 square miles, all from an enormous variety of backgrounds, with widely different political and cultural views. In addition to its array of different ideologies and interests, California’s political culture is strongly rooted in an old-fashioned Progressivism. Although like many states, its urban centers are marked by the legacy of 1960s radicalism while its rural counties remain socially conservative, this difference is more apparent than real. Progressivism was founded on replacing liberty, once the fundamental constitutional value, with collective decision-making. The Progressives were decidedly to the left on matters of economic liberty and private property, but sometimes conservative on matters involving morality, marriage and family.