New York Court Watcher

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Pandemic restrictions, transitioning to remote teaching, exams, grading, other projects, preoccupation with breaking news, etc. Now back at last. In the first post in this series, we took a look at Justice Niel Gorsuch’s voting record immediately following his appointment in the final few months of the 2016-17 term. As shown in that post, Gorsuch voted for the politically conservative side of…
Henry J. Abraham, University of Virginia Professor Emeritus, passed away last week at the age of 98. My Ph.D. mentor–and adopted "Uncle Henry"–was unconditionally cherished by so many of us over his more than 50 years of teaching. All of us in the "Tribe of Abraham" are heartbroken. I’m so glad I spent time with him last month. A few recent appreciations: A Life Uncommon (https://…
To begin the New Year, here are a few appearances late last year on radio, TV, and podcast, commenting on a variety of constitutional and judicial matters of national and state interest. In the coming posts, we’ll tend to some other overdue matters.Meanwhile, wishing all a very happy, healthy 2020! December30, 2019: Cuomo’s reshaping of the Court of Appeals In his nine years in the Governor’s Office, Andrew Cuomo has reshaped the state’s highest court.…
In the previous post, we saw how studies of Neil Gorsuch’s judicial record prior to his nomination by President Trump for the Supreme Court showed him to be among the most politically conservative members of the federal judiciary. We also saw how his record immediately following his appointment, the last couple of months of the Supreme Court’s 2016-17 term—the spring of 2017—reflected the very same strong politically conservative leanings. In fact, together with Justice…
President Trump’s first appointee, Neil Gorsuch, took his seat on the Supreme Court in the spring of 2017. By that time, judicial scholars–both political scientists and law professors–had studied his record on the federal appeals court from which he was elevated. Based on his voting patterns as an appellate judge, Gorsuch’s position among the other federal judges on the ideological spectrum had been mapped. Similarly, once he was nominated, his ideological place on the Supreme…
In the last post, we looked at two dissents that protested majority decisions at New York’s highest court that overturned convictions because of errors having nothing to do with guilt or innocence, and where there was no suggestion that the alleged error by the trial judge had caused any prejudice to the defendant. (See Part 4b.) Now we turn to the other two previously previewed dissents that protested majority decisions that upheld convictions, despite serious…
In the last post, we looked at two dissents that protested majority decisions at New York’s highest court that overturned convictions because of errors having nothing to do with guilt or innocence, and where there was no suggestion that the alleged error by the trial judge had caused any prejudice to the defendant. (See Part 4b.) Now we turn to the other two previously previewed dissents that protested majority decisions that upheld convictions, despite serious…
John Marshall HarlanDissented in Plessy A strong dissenting opinion is something to celebrate. (See e.g., discussion in Part 4a.)But, of course, it is often reason for considerable disappointment that it was not the court’s majority. Oliver Wendell Holmes“The Great Dissenter” Indeed, sometimes there is cause for outright dismay, exasperation, and bewilderment that the majority failed to embrace the dissent’s wisdom, fairness, candor, or other emphatic virtue. A few recent dissenting opinions at New York’s…
John Marshall HarlanDissented in Plessy A strong dissenting opinion is something to celebrate. (See e.g., discussion in Part 4a.)But, of course, it is often reason for considerable disappointment that it was not the court’s majority. Oliver Wendell Holmes“The Great Dissenter” Indeed, sometimes there is cause for outright dismay, exasperation, and bewilderment that the majority failed to embrace the dissent’s wisdom, fairness, candor, or other emphatic virtue. A few recent dissenting opinions at New York’s…
There are famous dissents that were right when written and were ultimately vindicated in cherished landmarks. John Marshall Harlan’s dissent, condemning “separate but equal” in Plessy v. Ferguson, became the law of the land in Brown v. Board of Education. Louis Brandeis’s dissent in Olmstead v. United States, where he urged a less cramped understanding of search and seizure protections, was adopted by in Katz v. United States. Hugo Black’s dissent in Betts v. Brady, arguing…