New York court rules state ethics commission unconstitutional


NYSCOELIG was created under New York Executive Law SS94 as an independent ethics watchdog. NYSCOELIG was created under New York Executive Law SS94 as an independent ethics watchdog.

Marcelle stated in his opinion that the New York state constitution requires that all executive power lies with the governor; therefore, any commission with executive power must be under the control of the governor. Marcelle continued to write:The Commission violates this core constitution tenant by operating outside the Governor’s control. By filling the commission with her appointees, the Governor is unable to control it. She cannot call on commissioners and ask them to explain their actions. Nor can she remove any commissioners for failing in their duties or misusing their office. Indeed, the whole reason for the commission’s existence is to be independent from any government control — an objective which Executive Law SS 94 surely accomplishes. Marcelle concluded:If the people should choose to be governed by those who are not politically accountable to them or their Governor, who swear no oath of allegiance to them, and who come as a class composed of urban academics and who are not reflective of the cross-section of the people whom they govern, the people may do so. It is up to the people and only them to make the decision. Here, the Legislature has done by statute what was required to be done by constitutional amendment.

A spokesperson for plaintiff and former Governor Andrew Cuomo

the ruling, stating, “Truth and reason won, mob rule lost today.” NYSCOELIG Chair Frederick A. Davie and Executive Director Sandford N. Berland expressed disappointment in the ruling, saying, “We respectfully disagree with the court’s result and are reviewing all options, including, if appropriate, interim legislation.”

The case began in 2021 when former Governor Andrew Cuomo stepped down amid allegations of sexual harassment. NYSCOELIG was created after Cuomo’s departure from office by Governor Kathy Hochul, the New York Legislature, and the former ethics oversight commission. The goal was to make the NYSCOELIG as independent as possible. NYSCOELIG charged Cuomo for ethics violations in relation to a book he wrote on the New York Government’s response to COVID-19. Cuomo filed a suit in April, alleging NYSCOELIG’s purview was unconstitutional. Cuomo also legally batted NYSCOELIG’s predecessor over similar allegations.

New York has had a long history of ethics scandals surrounding its state political leaders. In 2022, the former Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigned from office due to scandal after being indicted for alleged involvement in a corruption scheme. Cuomo and David Paterson, as well as Eliot Spitzer were among the former governors who left office in scandal. Republican

State Senate leader Dean Skelos, and Democratic Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver both resigned from their positions in 2015 due to public corruption charges. They were convicted.