Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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José Cabranes ’65JD:
overseeing the spies' overseers

Once rumored as the first Latino US nominee to the Supreme Court, José Cabranes ’65JD instead has landed a prize from that body's chief justice: appointment to the panel that oversees the nation's secret spy court.

Cabranes's appointment, announced August 19, makes him one of just three Democrats out of 14 judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and its review panel, the New York Times's Charlie Savage ’03MSL reports. Savage has previously contended that Chief Justice John Roberts "has been quietly reshaping" the intelligence court, which secretly reviews federal spying on civilians, by choosing "judges with conservative and executive branch backgrounds that critics say make the court more likely to defer to government arguments that domestic spying programs are necessary."

Cabranes, who has sat on the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals since then-president Bill Clinton ’73JD appointed him in 1994, has no executive branch experience. But of the judges on the 2nd Circuit, he's "considered among the more conservative-leaning Democratic appointees on crime and security issues," the Times says.

One Democratic colleague with whom Cabranes sometimes clashed on the 2nd Circuit was his protégé, Sonia Sotomayor ’79JD. Sotomayor sought out Cabranes, a fellow Puerto Rican from the Bronx, when she was a Yale Law student and he was the university's general counsel. But on the bench, their views diverged on civil rights and civil liberties.

Filed under Jose Cabranes, national security, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
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