Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Majority of the Majority Is Not a Majority of the Assembly

As my colleague Andrew has written, we at the Brennan Center were disappointed that the Assembly debate over congestion pricing seems to have taken place entirely within the closed Democratic conference, not in public on the Assembly floor. We're further disappointed to hear members of the Assembly majority defending their actions as democratic. For instance, Azi at the Politicker quotes a member of the Assembly as saying, "Democracy occurred with every member of the Assembly majority providing the speaker with his or her views, whether it was in conference or when the speaker polled members. And there was a clear consensus among the membership that the conference was against congestion pricing. Each legislator has the right and the ability to let his or her constituency know how he or she would have voted."

We would remind everyone that a consensus among the majority of the Assembly majority does not constitute a majority of the Assembly. We would also note that voters have the right to know their representatives' stance on key issues, regardless of whether legislators proactively use their "right and ability" to share their points of view. This is just one highly charged example of Assembly leadership protecting its members from accountability with their constituents.

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