Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New York in the Supreme Court

As the United States Supreme Court moves towards the conclusion of its 2008 Term at the end of June, it has completed all oral arguments and has over 25 cases to decide. Two of those cases bear directly on New York.

In Cuomo v. The Clearing House Association New York maintains that the National Bank Act does not preempt state enforcement of state laws against national banks. The case was argued in the Court on April 28. Barbara D. Underwood, Solicitor General of New York, appeared for the state.

In 2007 the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled against New York. 510 F.3d 105. But the severe financial downturn since then has exposed deep flaws in the federal regulation of banks, and the question is to what extent, if any, will the financial crisis affect the Justices' determination of the preemption question. 

In Haywood v. Drown the Supreme Court addresses a question which divided the New York Court of Appeals 4-3. Haywood v. Drown, 9 N.Y.3d 481 (2007). Pursuant to Correction Law § 24, New York courts have no jurisdiction under state or federal law to entertain civil actions for money damages against correction officers. In an opinion by Judge Graffeo, the majority ruled that the statute does not violate the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution by barring New York courts from adjudicating federal civil rights actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Judge Jones wrote a dissent in which Judges Smith and Pigott joined. 

The case was argued on December 3, 2008. The six months since oral argument suggest the Supreme Court will be divided, too. Solicitor General Underwood also argued this case.

Note: With all the chatter that New Yorker Sonia Sotomayor may be nominated to replace Justice Souter on the Supreme Court, her opinions on the Second Circuit have become the subject of much attention, and the attention will undoubtedly intensify if she is nominated. For a detailed look at her appellate opinions in civil cases, see scotusblog for May 15 and 18.

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