Judge Denies Monserrate’s Case to Stay in New York State Senate


As Alex V wrote, former State Senator Hiram Monserrate was expelled from the State Senate earlier this month for being convicted of misdemeanor assault on his girlfriend. He was the first state legislator to be from office since the early part of the last century. His response was to sue a bunch of state officials arguing that the Senate had no power to expel him. Further he and voters from his district claim in the suit that by expelling him the State Senate denied the rights of the voters who elected him.  Today Judge William H. Pauley denied those claims. You can read the decision on the NY Times site here.

My favorite quotation from the the decision:

In an ironic twist, [Moserrate’s] attorneys characterize the Senate’s action as an “unlawful coup” and argue that the voters in the 13th Senatorial District have been disenfranchises by this removal.

Let hope that the appeals court also finds more irony than merit in Monserrate’s suit. Pauly continues:

While this Court concludes it has no legal basis to preliminarily enjoin the decision of the Senate, a ‘fundamental principle of our representative democracy is, in (Alexander) Hamilton’s words, ‘that the people should choose whom they please to govern them…Thus, the March 16 special election furthers the goals of Plaintiffs’ current application to protect the voters of the 13th Senatorial District more effectively than judicial intervention.

The judge also said “expulsion of a sitting legislator is infrequent and the power of a body to determine the fitness of its members is embedded in American democracy.”