Contact: Jonathan Rosen or Tim Bradley, BerlinRosen Public Affairs (646) 452–5637
Statement of Plaintiffs’ Counsel on Supreme Court Decision Upholding New York’s System for Selecting State Supreme Court Judges
New York – This morning plaintiffs’ counsel issued the following statement in response to the decision issued today by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding New York’s system of selecting State Supreme Court Justices (trial judges in New York). The case is New York State Board of Elections v. López Torres. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, together with co-counsel Arnold & Porter LLP and Jenner & Block LLP, represents the plaintiffs in the litigation.
“New York has compiled an 87-year record of anti-democratic exclusion, unaccountability and corruption in judicial selection. These problems will not go away because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision,” said Kent Yalowitz, Partner at Arnold & Porter, LLP.
“The plaintiffs are considering further litigation options. In the meantime, we urge the political, civic, and bar leaders who stood up for reform to continue to stand with us, demanding legislation that will end the closed process, which has, for too long, undermined public confidence in New York’s courts,” said Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr., Senior Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.
“As the concurrences by Justices Stevens and Kennedy make clear, the Supreme Court’s decision should not, by any means, be read as endorsing New York’s flawed system,” said Surrogate Judge Margarita Lopez Torres, the lead plaintiff in the case.
About the Case
For more than eighty years, New York State Supreme Court Justices (New York’s trial court judges) have been nominated in judicial conventions. Local party bosses control the process while rank-and-file voters are excluded from choosing their party’s nominee. The Brennan Center challenged the system in Lopez Torres v. New York State Board of Elections. In January 2006, U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson found the system unconstitutional. In August, 2006 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit unanimously affirmed Judge Gleeson’s ruling.