New York State’s new chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, is turning the Court of Appeals “into a scrappier, more divided and more liberal” tribunal, reports the New York Times. Some 4-3 decisions have favored criminal defendants and injured workers, expanded environmental challenges, and extolled individual rights against the police.
“The message he is sending is he doesn't mind fighting for a much more progressive direction at the court,” said Albany Law School Prof. Vincent Bonventre. Noting that the U.S. Supreme Court had yet to rule on questions presented by Global Positioning Systems, the Court of Appeals ruled 4 to 3 that the New York State Constitution barred the police from placing GPS tracking devices on cars without a warrant. Another divided ruling struck down a youth curfew in Rochester, though other courts around the U.S. have approved such laws.