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Schwarzenegger calls Cantil-Sakauye 'example of the American dream'

July 22, 2010 |  1:25 pm

Walking side-by-side down a flag-lined hall to the soaring Capitol rotunda, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tani Cantil-Sakauye, his pick to be California’s next chief justice, made their first public appearance together Thursday, with the governor describing his nominee as a “living, breathing example of the American dream.”

If approved, Cantil-Sakauye, 50, would be California’s first Asian American chief justice and give women a majority on the state’s high court for the first time.

Schwarzenegger praised her intellect, judicial philosophy and ascent from “humble beginnings.”

“She even waited on tables to help put herself through college and later on through law school,” said Schwarzenegger, flanked by Cantil-Sakauye and Chief Justice Ron George, who is retiring. “What an inspiring example to all the young people in America, especially the young Filipino boys and girls.”

Cantil-Sakauye began her remarks “talking about history,” from the vantage point of her two children.

“They have a set of grandparents who worked in the fields. They have a set of grandparents who were interned for four years,” she said, referring to her husband’s parents, who were detained during World War II. “And their mother?” she added. “… Is history remarkable or what?”

Cantil-Sakauye’s first public comments since her nomination also gave hints of her judicial approach. She told the sometimes raucous crowd that she keeps a statue of Themis, the Greek goddess who represents law and justice, on her desk.

“I am reminded that what justice means to the public is that courts right the wrongs,” Cantil-Sakauye said. “It vanquishes the indignities and provides a forum for everyone to be heard.”

Cantil-Sakauye said she would be “exhilarated to serve” as chief justice, helping “to ensure the courts continue that vital role.”

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

twitter.com/ShaneGoldmacher

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