Yesterday, the First Department of the Appellate Division dismissed the lawsuit against Governor Pataki, Assembly Speaker Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Bruno filed by the Urban Justice League, Democratic Senator Liz Krueger and Republican Assemblyman Tom Kirwan.
The original complaint, which relied in part on our 2004 report on New York’s legislative process, argued that, among other things, minority members in both chambers received less money for member items and office operations than majority members. It also alleged, as we have argued, that it is practically impossible for minority members to bring bills to the chamber floor for a vote without the express approval of the speaker or majority leader.
As the New York Post writes, “In a decision late last year, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jane Solomon tossed out the bulk of the suit's claims, saying it was up to the Legislature to change the way it did business.”
The appellate court agreed, saying that the claims were largely political matters and nonjusticiable by the courts.
With this ruling, it is now even more important that the Legislature take the reins and institute changes to its legislative process. Without a change of heart by the leadership or an uprising from the rank-and-file members, an open and accountable legislative branch will always be beyond our grasp.
Funding for members’ offices should not be contingent on keeping good favor with the legislative leaders.
Bills with overwhelming support should not be left to languish in committee because the chamber leadership disapproves.
The legislative process should be efficient, responsive, deliberative, accessible, and accountable to the people of New York State. It is time for the rules of the Senate and Assembly to reflect this fact.
Categories: General, Legislative Rules