NYCLA & NYCLA’s Supreme Court Committee Endorse New York City Bar Report “Repeal the Cap, Do the Math”


NYCLA & NYCLA’s Supreme Court Committee Endorse New York City Bar Report “Repeal the Cap, Do the Math”

Statements & Letters
Written by: NYCLA & NYCLA's Supreme Court Committee
Published On: Jan 17, 2024

NYCLA and its Supreme Court Committee are pleased to endorse the report by the Council on Judicial Administration (“CJA”) of the New York City Bar Association titled “Repeal the Cap and Do the Math:  Why We Need a Modern, Flexible, Evidence-Based Method of Assessing New York’s Judicial Needs.”  We commend the City Bar for this excellent report. 


The CJA Report correctly highlights the problem with the current New York State constitutional limit on the number of elected Supreme Court Justices, which hampers the court system’s ability to provide an adequate number of Justices in many high-volume courts across the State.  As the Report notes, the New York State Constitution calculates the number of Supreme Court seats based on a simple population ratio:  one justice per 50,000 people, “leaving the Legislature powerless to authorize additional seats to meet the growing and particular needs of the courts in [judicial] districts.”  NYCLA has long supported lifting that cap, and we applaud the CJA’s renewed attention to this important issue. 

New York County is the busiest judicial county in the State.  To take just a few examples, many commercial contracts select New York County as the proper venue for any dispute.  This venue selection is provided for by the General Obligations Law, allowing sophisticated businesses to make sure that their disputes are handled by our expert Commercial Division bench.  In addition, New York County receives a disproportionate number of matrimonial filings each year, which can be filed in Manhattan regardless of where in New York the parties may reside.  This very much highlights the need to make sure that enough Justices are available to handle the enormous, often complex, caseload.

We also thank State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assemblyman Alex Bores for introducing bill S5414/A5366, which would begin the process required to amend the State Constitution to eliminate this outdated population cap.  Last year, the State Senate passed the legislation, but the bill stalled in committee in the Assembly.  This year it appears the bill has a strong possibility of passage.

NYCLA also salutes the fact that Governor Kathy Hochul addressed this issue head-on during last week’s State of the State address, where the Governor focused on the “antiquated constraint, embedded in the constitution, on the number of Supreme Court judges, which has a cascading impact on both Supreme Courts and lower courts.”  Thus, based on Governor Hochul’s statement, it appears that if the Legislature passes the bill, the Governor will sign it.

NYCLA looks forward to working with the CJA, with the Governor’s office, and with the New York State legislature to repeal this cap to the betterment of all those who seek the aid of the New York State court system. 

About the New York County Lawyers Association
The New York County Lawyers Association ( was founded in 1908 as one of the first major bar associations in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or gender, and has a long history of supporting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Since its inception, NYCLA has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence. For more information on NYCLA please visit

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