The California Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to get into the spanking debate.

In a brief order, the state's high court let stand a San Jose appeals court ruling last year that found using a wooden spoon for a spanking that seriously bruises a child is not necessarily child abuse.

The justices, in their weekly closed-door conference, declined to hear an appeal of the ruling from the Santa Clara County Department of Social Services. Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar was the only member of the court who voted to hear the case.

The 6th District Court of Appeal last October ruled that a South Bay mother should not have been reported for child abuse for trying to resolve disciplinary issues with her 12-year-old daughter by spanking her so hard with a wooden spoon it left bruises.

County social services officials had reported the mother to the state Department of Justice to be included in its child abuse database, but the mother appealed. The appeals court determined that there was nothing in the factual record to suggest the mother intended to cause any physical harm, or inflict bruising.

"We cannot say that the use of a wooden spoon to administer a spanking necessarily exceeds the bounds of reasonable parental discipline," Justice Conrad Rushing wrote for the unanimous panel.

Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz