Contributors and advisors include current and former state justices, legal scholars, practitioners from across the country
Press briefing tomorrow will preview this fall’s notable cases in state courts; online panel on Sept. 19 will discuss what Dobbs means for state courts and constitutions
Today the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law launched State Court Report, a nonpartisan website devoted to state constitutions and courts. It features commentary and analysis by a wide range of experts, including Judge Pierre Bergeron of the First District Court of Appeals of Ohio, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, retired Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack of the Michigan Supreme Court, Cato Institute Senior Fellow Walter Olson, and University of Wisconsin Law Professor Miriam Seifter. State Court Report also offers a database of decisions and briefs from 550 significant state supreme court cases since 2021 across the fifty states, as well as materials from major pending cases.
“State courts and constitutions haven’t gotten the attention they deserve,” said Alicia Bannon, editor in chief of State Court Report and director of the Brennan Center’s Judiciary Program. “The need for more journalism and scholarship has only intensified as Americans are increasingly looking to their state constitutions to protect their rights. State Court Report will foster learning across state lines about this vast and vital part of American law.”
State Court Report tracks cases and emerging trends in state constitutional law, updating continually with news, new commentary from experts, and cases. The website is the first to bring these elements together in one place, allowing users to more easily follow new legal developments in the states and explore questions about constitutional interpretation that cross state lines. Already the website provides such analysis on a broad array of issues, with more to come: the environment, originalism, reproductive rights, elections, torts and liability, civil due process, criminal law, judicial selection, economic liberty, and civil rights.
In addition to the expertise of its contributors, State Court Report relies on an advisory board of law professors, retired state chief justices, and journalists for guidance: Hon. Tani Cantil-Sakauye, retired chief justice of the California Supreme Court; Sue Cross, Institute for Nonprofit News; Hon. Wallace Jefferson, retired chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court; Dahlia Lithwick, Slate; Hon. Bridget Mary McCormack, retired chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court; Judith Resnik, Yale Law School; Daniel Rodriguez, Northwestern Law School; Kate Shaw, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; and Robert Williams, Rutgers University School of Law.
“Almost a half century ago, Justice William Brennan called on lawyers and judges to pay greater attention to state courts and state constitutions as ‘guardians of our liberties.’ Yet the legal community has continued to focus on federal courts as a topic for scholarship, advocacy, and engagement. It’s time to stop neglecting state courts and constitutions,” said Michael Waldman, president and CEO of the Brennan Center and author of The Supermajority: How the Supreme Court Divided America. “State Court Report, we hope, will make room for the thinking, study, and public understanding long due for these courts.”
“State constitutions are a principal source of rights and protections in the United States. And more than 95% of all court cases in this country are filed in state courts,” said Wendy Weiser, vice president for democracy at the Brennan Center. “State Court Report will facilitate much-needed conversation about state constitutionalism both inside and outside the legal profession and across state lines.”
In the coming days, State Court Report will publish commentary coauthored by American Bar Association President Mary Smith, Illinois First District Appellate Court Judge Michael Hyman, and University of New Hampshire School of Law Professor Emerita Sarah Redfield, as well as pieces by Michael Burger of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Widener Law School Professor Quinn Yeargain, and others.
State Court Report is hosting two events to mark its debut, one for press and one for the public:
- Tomorrow, September 13, 1 p.m. ET: Press briefing and Q&A previewing notable state cases this fall related to the environment, prosecutorial discretion, redistricting, voting, abortion, constitutional amendments, and more. The speakers are from the Brennan Center except where noted: Alicia Bannon; Professor Martha Davis (environmental law; Northeastern University School of Law); Rosemary Nidiry (criminal justice; former prosecutor); Yurij Rudensky (redistricting); and Eliza Sweren-Becker (voting and elections). The briefing will be held on Zoom here (no passcode required).
- Tuesday, September 19, 6 p.m. ET: “Abortion Rights and the Future of State Constitutions,” an online panel with Alicia Bannon; Emily Bazelon (moderator), New York Times Magazine and Yale Law School; Cheri Beasley, former chief justice, North Carolina Supreme Court; and David Cohen, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law. To attend, register here.