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If you can't beat 'em, sue 'em

In Urban Justice Center v. Pataki, minority legislators from the New York Assembly and Senate, along with the Urban Justice Center are seeking...well, justice and reform, from the looks of it.  In New York County Supreme Court, the Urban Justice Center, plaintiff Kirwan (a Republican member of the Democratic-controlled Assembly), and plaintiff Krueger (a Democratic member of the Republican-controlled Senate) brought suit against Governor Pataki, defendant Bruno (the Majority Leader of the Senate), defendant Silver (the Speaker of the Assembly), the Assemby, and the Senate.

In the words of the Court, the plaintiffs filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment:

in order to democratize the ways in which each house of the Legislature conducts its business. Plaintiffs seek to reduce certain benefits that the members of the majority party in each house enjoy, certain aspects of the control that the members of the majority party in each house exercise over the legislative process, and certain aspects of the control that the head of the majority party in each house exercises over the members of his party. In effect, the complaint alleges that, in each house, the majority has leveraged its numerical superiority so as to squelch debate among the members of the house, so as to place a strangle hold on proposed bills that are not favored by the leadership of the house, and more generally, so as to prevent members of the minority parties from effectively representing their constituents.

Of the 20 counts in the complaint, the only claims that survived the defendants' motion to dismiss were: 1) count XVI, which alleged that by authorizing the use of an auto-pen to sign messages of necessity the Governor violated a specific constitutional standard and 2) counts I and IV, by the Assemblyman and Senator, complaining of an unequal allocation of resources in violation of the equal protection provisions of the State and Federal Constitutions.


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