And the brief contains something of a rebuke to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who, like Mr. Stringer, is a top contender for 2013. Mr de Blasio is supporting the lawsuit, mainly on the grounds that in the rush to passage Mayor Mike Bloomberg did an end-run around the City Council, negotiating with the state legislature instead.
From the brief:
Months before the plan was to take effect, plaintiffs filed the instant lawsuit seeking to block the plan, arguing that its passage violates the home rule amendment of the New York State Constitution. N.Y. Const. Art. IX, § 2. It is notable that while home rule claims are usually made by the local legislative body (or municipality) aggrieved by the alleged usurpation of local authority, the City Council of New York has not challenged the constitutionality of the Borough Taxi plan. Simply put, the Borough Taxi plan has been one of the most heavily debated, long-awaited pieces of legislation in recent memory.
The plaintiffs’ claim that the legislative process has left New York City without a voice fails to acknowledge the important roles played by both the Mayor and State Legislators from New York City in securing the passage of the Borough Taxi plan. These officials were not only actively engaged in negotiations among stakeholders, but also in issuing surveys and holding public forums in their communities to educate the public about the plan, receiving suggestions for amendments, and gaining feedback from voters.
The Court of Appeals has historically shown considerable deference to the political branches on questions related to the extent of home rule rights. “[W]hile fully mindful of the importance of home rule, we are sensitive as well to another fundamental precept of government: that, whether or not we endorse their wisdom, acts of the Legislature are presumptively valid and cannot be overturned unless proved unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In this instance, the State Legislature has asserted that the Borough Taxi plan is a matter of “substantial state concern”. While this statement alone does not determine the applicability of home rule, it warrants traditional deference in the consideration of this court.
It is worth noting that there is a political angle to all of this as well. Both Mr. Stringer and Mr. de Blasio are vying to be the candidate of outer-borough white voters–the voter that was presumably an Anthony Weiner supporter before he imploded–who have lamented for a long time about the lack of decent taxi service in their neighborhoods.
The full brief is below:
[scribd id=97437064 key=key-2orh6estzyzmlvsgvxk6 mode=list]