Balloons spell out the word love over the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015, after the court declared in 'Obergefell v. Hodges' that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the US.
The Supreme Court on June 26, 2015, after the court declared in ‘Obergefell v. Hodges’ that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the U.S. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

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Preserving Due Process and Preventing Wrongful Convictions

Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge of the State of New York, discusses the due process clause and the requirement that states provide fair and just legal proceedings before any person may be deprived of life or liberty.

Non-Lawyers Help to Bridge the Justice Gap

Lawrence K. Marks, Chief Administrative Judge of the Unified Court System, writes: The aid of a trained non-lawyer can be immensely beneficial in guiding a confused litigant through filling out paperwork, providing moral support in a courtroom setting and giving valuable information regarding an individual’s case. Non-lawyers can greatly improve a litigant’s court experience and also affect outcomes.

The 14th Amendment and Our Present Day Democracy

Peter Tom, Acting Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department writes: Our country’s founding principle of equality, ingeniously crafted in the 14th Amendment, has evolved throughout the past century in many meaningful ways which our founding fathers could not have foreseen.

New York: A Leader in Ensuring a Fair and Just Society

Randall T. Eng, Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, writes: While the framers of the 14th Amendment were motivated by the goal of eliminating the racial discrimination that remained as a vestige of slavery, the New York State Human Rights Law reflects a recognition in our state that the principle of equal protection of the laws applies not only to race, but to all human characteristics that are immutable or otherwise not a proper basis for disparate treatment. With its expansive equal protection requirements, the state of New York is now in a position to be a leader in ensuring a more just and fair society.

Upholding Justice Close to Home

Karen K. Peters, the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Third Department, writes: Considering the small places where transformative cases began reminds us not only of the grave importance of every case to the individuals involved, but also of the role of state courts as the first bulwark for human rights.

‘Jack v. Martin’ and State Law Roots of Equal Protection Theory

Gerald J. Whalen, Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, writes: The great import and utility of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment cannot be overstated, and its accomplishments in spreading our founding ideals to every corner of this nation are well known. For these accomplishments, the federal courts deserve much credit. But it is also important to remember that, at one point in American history, it was the state courts, deploying state law, that lead the charge for equal and evenhanded justice.

Toward Liberty and Justice for All

Claire P. Gutekunst, president of the New York State Bar Association, writes: In the past 150 years, the 14th Amendment has gone from needing fixing to having power and reach. In particular, the Supreme Court has relied on the due process clause in identifying and protecting fundamental rights involving personal liberty, including rights to privacy and to marry, and it has used the equal protection clause to protect individuals from disparate treatment based on suspect classifications such as race and gender.

Photo Essay: Naturalization Ceremony

Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo swore in 180 new citizens at a naturalization ceremony held at the Eastern District Courthouse on Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn on April 18, 2017.