Robert Katzmann, US judge with reach beyond the bench, dies at 68

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“Ignoring such guidelines increases the likelihood that a judge will interpret a law at odds with legislative meaning, and potentially more in line with his own political intuitions and preferences,” he wrote in the Harvard Law Review in 2016, in response to a review. from his book by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who now sits on the Supreme Court.

“A judge’s work takes place not on the high plane of a grand, unified theory, but on the ground of common sense inquiry,” he said.

In 2018, Judge Katzmann wrote the majority opinion of the Second Circuit Court in Zarda v. Altitude Express that the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation.

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The following year, writing for a unanimous panel of three judges, he argued in Trump v. Vance that the President of the United States was not immune from a subpoena to appear before a state grand jury that orders a third party to produce unprivileged material in its investigation of potential crimes.

The case involved a subpoena to Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. The appeals court dismissed Mr. Trump’s request to block the subpoena, which sought eight years of sound and corporate tax returns.

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The Zarda and Trump decisions were both upheld by the United States Supreme Court.

In 2017, Judge Katzmann, a consensus builder, issued a rare dissent when the Second Circuit court, overturning a district court judge, said in Watson v. United States that an American citizen who had been wrongfully detained for 1,273 days had no right to sue. the government in damages for not filing its claim on time.

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Even as a child, he sought to engage in civic affairs. At the age of 9, he wrote to President John F. Kennedy on behalf of the members of the Seneca tribe who had lost their territory to a flood control project. As a sophomore, in a letter to Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr., he complained about a problematic traffic light in his neighborhood in Queens.

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