by Stanley Mosk
The record of Pat Brown as governor during the period when California became the most populous state in the nation should be frequently recalled. His accomplishments in the completion of the great water project, law enforcement standards and training, education, administration of prisons and juvenile facilities, public health and environmental protection - and other areas too numerous to mention - all assure his lofty place in the history of our state.
Of course, there were those who disagreed with him on one or more issues. And there were always some who criticized appointments of individuals. But regardless of one's political or philosophical views on personnel, no one can doubt that he invariably chose appointees of outstanding ability and integrity.
Pat as governor and I as attorney general had a splendid cooperative working arrangement. We saw eye to eye on most significant issues, particularly on efficient law enforcement and on protection of our natural resources. Seldom did we disagree, and when we did, it was only on degree rather than principle.
I remember when the John Birch Society was first becoming a public annoyance. The governor asked me, as attorney general, to conduct an investigation into the organization and to report to him.
I politely declined to investigate, pointing out that however we might dislike and distrust the society, it was a political entity, and it would be improper to use public resources to investigate any political organization. We invoked the Voltairean doctrine that while we may despise what is being said, we must devote our lives to protect the right to speak.
At that time, I observed that the Birch Society appeared to be composed primarily of wealthy businessmen, retired military officers and little old ladies in tennis shoes. That latter expression soon became an accepted part of modern lexicon.
Perceptive in politics
Pat Brown has always been recognized as a perceptive political leader. In a collection of John Kennedy wit, there was this 1960 item:
"Question: Sen. Kennedy, Gov. Brown today issued a very optimistic statement about your election chances. Yet the Field Poll shows Nixon running ahead. Which of those two experts do you believe?"
"Answer: I believe Gov. Brown."
And, of course, the governor was right, as Nixon and the Field Poll soon discovered.
Pat Brown's judicial appointments were outstanding. Being a top-flight lawyer himself, one who had respect for the judicial process, he was determined that the judges he appointed - many of whom were to be in office long after he left public service - would reflect credit on his administration.
No governor can point to better legal minds placed on the Supreme Court than Pat Brown's selection of Chief Justice Roger Traynor, Justices Matt Tobriner, Ray Sullivan, Ray Peters, Lou Burke and Paul Peek. One could name more than a dozen superb appointments he made to the courts of appeal and a legion to the superior courts throughout the state. They all made a significant contribution to the jurisprudence of California.
I always admired Gov. Brown for resisting those demagogues who cried out for limitations on individual rights, those who were demanding restrictions on the Bill of Rights, constantly more severe punishments, hurry-up trials, hasty punishment. Pat believed in constitutional principles and never yielded in his devotion to our traditional system of justice.
A lovable person
We recall Pat Brown not merely because of his public service accomplishments, but because of the person he was: friendly, outgoing, energetic, intelligent, eager to be helpful, a warm, lovable human being totally without guile.
And so, we recall Edmund G. Brown with affection. The people of California are forever in his debt for providing them with many years of dedicated public service as district attorney, attorney general and eight effective years as governor. Indeed, the perspective of history is certain to rank him among the greatest governors ever to serve our state.