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Opinion: How California’s chief justice changed the state — and why you might not have noticed

Her seat on the high court put Sacramento-born Cantil-Sakauye, 63, in the middle of California’s most contentious issues. From reforming the state prisons to defining the difference between an independent contractor and an employee protected by California labor laws, she worked to build consensus and collegiality on a court that she saw as critical to protecting the public against political overreach — even when the overreach is in the name of the public through direct democracy.