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Plaintiff’s Counsel on Supreme Court Decision in Lopez Torres v. NYS Board of Elections

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.

January 17, 2008
For Imme­di­ate Release: Wednes­day, Janu­ary 16, 2008

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.

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