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

For the second time in one month, the State Commission on Judicial Nomination released a list of nominees for New York’s highest court. Earlier last month, on April 8th, the Commission gave Governor Andrew Cuomo a list from which to replace Judge Leslie Stein who will be leaving the Court in June. (See The NY Court of Appeals List, April 12, 2021.) Late last week, on April 29th, the Commission…
As Nick raised his glass, Father Keller said out loud, “Finally.”—from WHERE HAVE YOU GONE WITHOUT ME, by Peter BonventreYes, “Finally,” Part 4.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesLate last year, in the previous installments in this series, we saw a pretty clear pattern. We were looking at now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s record while a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Specifically, we were…
 (Emerging from the pandemic-related delays and extra work preparing for remote teaching, etc.Anyway, back to Court Watcher.)Last week, the Commission on Judicial Conduct released its list of nominees to fill the vacancy on the state’s highest court which will arise on June 4th–the day on which Judge Leslie Stein had previously announced she would retire. The Commission received 45 applications,…
(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…