Monday, August 23, 2021

Judith Kaye Has an Opinion Too: A Unifier’s Guide to Dissenting

By Alison C. Beck
Alison Beck graduated cum laude from Albany Law School in May 2021. Prior to attending law school, she graduated magna cum laude from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY with a B.A. in English and Legal Studies.
During her time in law school, she worked as a law clerk at NYSUT before heading to the New York State Legislature. Alison worked in the Assembly Minority Counsel's Office before landing a position as a law clerk in the Senate Minority Counsel's Office.
She also worked as a research assistant for Dean Rosemary Queenan and participated in the Domenick L. Gabrielli Appellate Advocacy Competition. However, her real claim to fame in law school has been her ability to "name that tune" in Professor Patrick Connors' classes.
Alison is currently an associate counsel at the New York State Senate Minority Counsel's Office.

There exists a double standard for women in the law, often seen as too aggressive or too emotional. New York Chief Judge Judith Kaye, known for her kindness and compassion, was likely stereotyped as the latter type of lawyer. Her judicial opinions often incorporated passionate and heartfelt language. This wasn’t a bad thing though; it also made her writing more powerful. Her desire to avoid division on the court exemplifies the level of sincerity and commitment she had to her beliefs when she dissented.

Kaye acknowledged throughout her life that she was always a writer first, that she went to law school only with the hope of landing a job at a newspaper or magazine company. The writings of a journalist have a particular gumption, their personal views and passions seem to seep through no matter what. In dissecting Judge Kaye’s writing—mainly her dissents, but also a few majorities where appropriate—I analyzed the pillars of her judicial identity and how they reflect traditional gender norms. What seeped through was a desire for fair and equal treatment under the law, compassion and understanding for the background of the parties, and a fierce defense of the defenseless.
To read the paper, open HERE.