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Brennan Center Senior Counsel to State Senate: End Backroom Judicial Selection

January 8, 2007

For Immediate Release
January 8, 2007

Contact Information
Susan Lehman, (212) 998–6318

Frederick A. O. Schwarz, Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law called on state lawmakers today to enact a judicial selection system that gives voters not political party leaders the final say in selecting New York State Supreme Court Justices.

The Brennan Center represents the plaintiffs in Lopez Torres v. New York State Board of Elections, the case in which the federal courts found New Yorks closed judicial selection conventions unconstitutional.

Schwarz called on the State Senate to reject proposals that would preserve the old judicial convention system for selecting judges with only cosmetic changes. The Brennan Center is calling on the State Legislature to support either open primaries or to enact legislation proposed by Senator John DeFrancisco that would allow any judicial candidate to bypass the convention system and get on the primary ballot by gathering petition signatures directly from voters.

This week Governor Eliot Spitzer spoke out forcefully for real judicial selection reform saying, I will not support anything that has a closed convention structure, where only those who came out of the convention could be on the ballot.

Read Schwarzs testimony.

Read Schwarz’s op-ed in the Albany Times-Union on Judicial Selection.