Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said just now in a statement that he finds unconstitutional a new proposal for Governor David Paterson to break the stalemate in the Senate by appointing a Lt. Governor.
Here’s the statement:
“The State Constitution explicitly prescribes what occurs when there is a vacancy in the Office of Lieutenant Governor. In such circumstance, article 4, § 6 states that “the temporary president of the senate shall perform all the duties of the lieutenant-governor during such vacancy . . . .”
“Article 4, § 1 of the Constitution expressly provides that “the lieutenant-governor shall be chosen at the same time, and for the same term” as the Governor. The Legislature did not authorize a Governor to bypass this provision of the Constitution and fill a vacancy in the Office of Lieutenant Governor pursuant to Public Officers Law § 43.
That statute, which provides for Gubernatorial appointment to fill certain vacancies, applies only when there is “no provision of law for filling the same”. With respect to the Lieutenant Governor, however, the Constitution leaves no gap concerning a vacancy in that office – article 4, § 6 expressly addresses that circumstance.
“In sum, we understand the apparent political convenience of the proponents’ theory due to the current Senate circumstances. In our view, however, it is not constitutional. In addition, contrary to the proponents’ goal, we believe it would not provide long term political stability but rather the opposite, by involving the Governor in a political ploy that would wind through the courts for many months.”
Last week, I wrote about Cuomo’s relative silence on the issue of the Senate meltdown, among other things.
It’s interesting that Cuomo is choosing to weigh in on this proposal now, when it’s a question of preventing the current governor from being empowered and, at least hypothetically, changing the deadlocked dynamic in the Senate.