Moreno, 62, is the only Democrat and only Hispanic justice on the seven-member state high court, which has generally been moderate in its rulings in recent years.
His retirement will give Gov. Jerry Brown his first appointment to the California Supreme Court in his current term as governor.
The move will also give the San Francisco-based court its second new member within a period of several months.
Former Chief Justice Ronald George retired on Jan. 2, and his successor, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, took office on Jan. 3.
Moreno was appointed to the court by Gov. Gray Davis in 2001.
He grew up in East Los Angeles and attended Stanford Law School.
He began his judicial career as municipal court judge in Compton in 1986, later moved to superior court and was appointed to federal district court by President Bill Clinton in 1998.
He said today, “It has been a truly unique honor and privilege to have served the people of California as a judge for over 24 years and, together with my great colleges on the court, to have played a modest role in shaping California jurisprudence.”
Moreno said he is weighing options in the private sector, including private practice and alternative dispute resolution.
While on the court, Moreno chaired a state blue-ribbon commission on children in foster care. He was the only member of the court who dissented from a 2009 ruling that upheld Proposition 8, the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye said, “Justice Moreno is a consummate professional, a dedicated and gracious jurist who has served the federal and state courts for more than 24 years.
“I fully expected that Justice Moreno and I would serve together on the Supreme Court for at least another decade,” she said, adding, “I am happy for him because his future is filled with possibilities.”
Julia Cheever, Bay City News