George Bundy Smith Remembered for Soft-Spoken Power

, New York Law Journal


George Bundy Smith, a retired Court of Appeals judge, the author of the state's decision outlawing the death penalty and a civil rights fighter who was arrested in 1961 on a "Freedom Ride" to Alabama, passed away at his home in Harlem on Saturday.

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  • Robert N H Christmas

    There is a glaring omission in this article on George Bundy Smith‘s career and passing: his joinder with the majority in Hernandez v. Robles and companion cases before the Court of Appeals, which mars his civil rights legacy. Judge Smith‘s impressive lifetime work, to improve the condition of oppressed people, unfortunately did not extend to New York‘s Gay and Lesbian citizens. The decision in Hernandez took half a decade to reverse legislatively, and did untold damage to equality across the country, given the influence of our Court of Appeals. Similar to what Judge Smith was protesting as a Freedom Rider -- Jim Crow laws in the South -- the Hernandez decision he joined was on the wrong side of history, and is a permanent scar on his reputation, and of the Court, that should be remembered.

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