Common Cause/NY Responds to News that Gov May Sue the Senate Over LaSalle

Today at 10AM the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing and vote on Governor Hochul’s nominee for the Chief Justice position on the New York State Court of Appeals. In response to news reports that the Governor may hire a litigator to sue the Senate in the event that it does not put the nomination to a full floor vote, Common Cause/NY Executive Director, Susan Lerner, issued the following statement:

“Common Cause/NY is horrified to learn that Governor Hochul is contemplating hiring a litigator at taxpayer expense to violate the Constitutionally protected separation of powers. Make no mistake: doing so would be a total abuse of power, and a brutal attack on a democratically elected institution. It would throw the decision about who sits on the courts to the courts in an unprecedented conflict of interest, as well as setting the disturbing precedent that a Governor can use the courts to bludgeon the Legislature everytime she doesn’t get her way. New Yorkers elected their state senators to advise and consent on the all important matter of a 14-year term to the highest court in the state. The Governor’s actions thus far have been disturbing enough, including having a woman forcibly removed by police for peaceably speaking out in her church during the Governor’s remarks on Martin Luther King Day; she may not now deprive the people of their voice in the upper chamber of their house. We urge her to drop this ludicrous idea, and allow the proper functioning of the Senate to proceed.”


According to the New York State Constitution, the Senate “shall determine the rules of its own proceedings” (NY Const, art III § 14). The Court of Appeals has affirmed “the fundamental proposition that, subject to some constitutional strictures, any deliberative assembly is the final arbiter of its own internal procedures.” Board of Education v. City of New York, 41 N.Y.2d 535, 542 (N.Y. 1977). “It is not the province of the courts to direct the legislature how to do its work” People ex Rel. Hatch v. Reardon, 184 N.Y. 431, 442 (N.Y. 1906). In Heimbach v State of New York ( 59 N.Y.2d 891, 893), the Court of Appeals flatly stated that “based upon our respect for the basic polity of separation of powers and the proper exercise of judicial restraint, we will not intrude into the wholly internal affairs of the Legislature.” See also Urban Justice Ctr. v. Pataki, 38 A.D.3d 20, 828 N.Y.S.2d 12 (App. Div. 1st Dept.) 2006 and cases cited therein.