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The 2017 Pension Political Power 25: Tani Cantil-Sakauye

No. 7 Tani Cantil-Sakauye, California Chief Justice

  • By Peter Vasiliev

7. Tani Cantil-Sakauye
California Chief Justice

The fate of California’s defined benefit pensions — and potentially those in every state — now lies in the hands of California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, 57, and her six fellow judges. If California’s top court rules that promised pension benefits can be taken away, that may open the door to drastic pension overhauls, removing an obstacle that has long frustrated would-be reformers around the country. For public employee retirees in Marin County, it could be “good-bye, pension spiking; hello, benefit adjustments.” The story so far: In 1955 the Supreme Court of California ruled that under the state’s commerce clause, benefits that had been promised to workers could not be taken away — though reasonable modifications were allowed if they included some comparable new advantages. This decision, known as the California rule, has been used by courts throughout the U.S. and its territories to stave off pension reform. Last year, though, a San Francisco court unanimously upheld a Marin County pension reform effort. The decision was challenged, and Cantil-Sakauye’s court has agreed to hear the case. — Imogen Rose-Smith


The 2017 Pension Political Power 25

1. Andy Puzder
Secretary of Labor
2. Bruce Rauner
Governor of Illinois
3. Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Education
4. Laura & John Arnold
Founders,
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
5. Steven Mnuchin
Secretary of the Treasury
6. Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Commerce
7. Tani Cantil-Sakauye
California Chief Justice
8. Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
9. Anthony Scaramucci
Founder, SkyBridge Capital
10. Kevin de León
California State Senator and President Pro Tempore
11. Mike Enzi
Chairman, Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security
12. Steve Sweeney
President,
New Jersey State Senate
13. Jerry Brown
Governor of California
14. Corey Lewandowski
Co-founder, Avenue Strategies
15. Paul Singer
President,
Elliott Management Corp.
16. Randel Johnson
Senior Vice President, Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
17. Joe Manchin
U.S. Senator
18. Kenneth Feinberg
Founder and managingpartner, Feinberg Rozen
19. Scott Walker
Governor of Wisconsin
20. Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO
21. Mike Rawlings
Mayor of Dallas
22. Elizabeth Warren
U.S. Senator
23. Kent Mason
Partner,
Davis & Harman
24. Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senator
25. Randi Weingarten
President, American Federation of Teachers

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