When Governor Cuomo was pushing for same-sex marriage in June, he was in a rush (reportedly to get things done by news time). Though the New York State constitution (Article III, section 14) requires that the final language of a bill be available three days before a vote, the final language of the same-sex-marriage bill (including its stingy religious exemptions) was not available until a few hours before the vote. The constitution provides for a rush vote where the governor “shall have certified, under his or her hand and the seal of the state, the facts which in his or her opinion necessitate an immediate vote thereon.” This is the provision Governor Cuomo invoked to get around the normal requirement.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom had challenged this and other actions by the government in shoving the bill through, and an initial decision has now been made in that case. The court ruled “reluctantly” that it could do nothing about the violation of the 72-hour requirement since the senate had accepted it, but allowed for a trial on whether legislators violated an open-meetings law in the lead-up to marriage redefinition.
Even though the court concluded it was powerless to redress the illegality in the governor’s actions, the judge still had some strong things to say about the purported legislative emergency. Of the reason the governor gave for immediate action (that “marriage equality” had been denied too long), the court said: “Logically and clearly this cite by the Governor is disingenuous. The review of such concept altering legislation for three days after generations of existing definitions would not so damage same sex couples as to necessitate an avoidance of rules meant to ensure full review and discussion prior to any vote.” The court further noted: “It is ironic that much of the State’s brief passionately spews sanctimonious verbiage on the separation of powers in the governmental branches, and clear arm-twisting by the Executive on the Legislative permeates this entire process.”