New York Court Watcher

Vincent Martin Bonventre, the Justice Robert H. Jackson Distinguished Professor at Albany Law School, inaugurated New York Court Watcher in May 2008. Court observer Bonventre offers research and commentary on the United States Supreme Court, the New York Court of Appeals, and other federal and state courts on a wide range of public law issues.

Since its inception, New York Court Watcher has published several hundred commentaries. Virtually all of them are based on original research. Voting patterns of Justices and judges, as well as decisional patterns of the courts on which they sit, are a staple of the commentaries. Courts, Justices and judges, and the politics surrounding them--as well as practiced by them--are examined from a realistic and practical perspective. That is, legal realism as opposed to formalism. From the perspective of a political scientist as well as a lawyer.

New York Court Watcher Blogs

Latest from New York Court Watcher

(This is a brief detour to address significant decisions just rendered by the Supreme Court and New York State’s Highest court.)One tribunal, the Supreme Court, took constitutionally protected free exercise of religion seriously. Perhaps, the Court even went overboard in doing so.By the sharpest contrast, another tribunal, New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, seemed entirely…
In the last post, we looked at two opinions of then-Judge Amy Coney Barrett while on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. They were dissents. One involved immigration, the other gun rights. Patrick Semansky/APForget about originalism or strict construction or deference to the legislative branch or other species of “judicial restraint.” (I feel compelled to keep repeating that.) If you simply…
(Since the previous post, Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the Republican controlled Senate, without a single Democratic, and Republican President Trump who nominated her was defeated in the election by Democratic candidate Joe Biden.  Back to now-Justice Barrett.)Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNSIn her three years as a federal appellate judge, Amy Coney Barrett established a distinct record. That…
The magnitude of the shift was certainly not matched by a magnitude of serious deliberation.Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18th. President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the resulting vacancy a mere eight days later. One and a half weeks later, on October 5th, Senator Lindsey Graham scheduled a four day confirmation hearing. It began the next week.Democrats decried…
More Aftermath of Scalia’s Dreadful Oregon v. Smith Opinion We’ve previously discussed how New York’s highest court, when deciding Catholic Charities v. Serio in 2006, did so with the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Oregon v. Smith as a backdrop. The Supreme Court in Smith significantly reduced the 1st Amendment protection for religious liberty, and the New York court in Catholic Charities …
More Aftermath of Scalia’s Dreadful Oregon v. Smith Opinion Prior to discussing the Supreme Court’s three recent church-state decisions in the immediately preceding post (see Part 1a–addendum), we discussed the status of federal free exercise protections. Under the 1st Amendment–at least since Scalia’s majority opinion in the 1990 Oregon v. Smith decision–religious liberty is protected only…
More Aftermath of Scalia’s Dreadful Oregon v. Smith Opinion Before advancing to the New York decisions, it probably makes sense to first address the three rulings just handed down by the Supreme Court dealing with religion. One dealt with discrimination against religion, another with discrimination by religion, and the third one with a regulation accommodating religion. None of these affect…
More Aftermath of Scalia’s Dreadful Oregon v. Smith Opinion Last week, in Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany v. Vullo, a New York appellate court rejected religious objections to paying for abortion coverage. The state’s Appellate Division, Third Department, voted unanimously to deny the Albany Catholic Diocese, as well as other religious groups, an exemption from New York’s…
As this is being prepared, the 5-4 Court–Roberts voting with the liberals–invalidated the Louisiana abortion restrictions. More on that and on that continuing pattern below. Source:Reuters/Leah Mills We’ve previously looked at Chief Justice Roberts’ breaking with his conservative colleagues and aligning with the Court’s liberals to help form majorities in politically charged cases dealing…
Source: AP/Dave Tulis/Larry Downing In Part 1, we saw how Chief Justice Roberts joined decisions that saved so-called Obamacare and that protected immigrants. In those cases, he often authored the majority opinion himself, allying himself with his liberal colleagues to render decisions that triggered unconcealed outrage on the part of all or most of his conservative colleagues in dissent. We…