Judge Hears New York State’s Appeal on Open Meeting Violations

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, LIBERTY COUNSEL

Livingston County, NY – Yesterday, Rena Lindevaldsen, Special Counsel for Liberty Counsel, told an appeals court that the secret, closed-door meetings held by New York State Senate Republicans with Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg violated the Open Meetings Law. The entire argument hinged on whether the governor and mayor, who actively raised more than a million dollars to convince Republican Senators to vote in favor of the Marriage Equality Act, were guests of the Republican conference and, therefore, could meet in closed-door meetings to lobby and persuade Republican Senators to change their vote in favor of the same-sex marriage act.

Today’s argument was an appeal by the State of New York of a November 2011 decision by the New York Supreme Court that refused to dismiss plaintiffs’ case. The Open Meetings Law guarantees the people a transparent political process in order to hold their elected representatives accountable. The state, however, argued that the people had no right to know what took place in those meetings, where Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg actively and persistently lobbied Republican Senators to vote in favor of the Marriage Equality Act, including a meeting at the governor’s mansion.

Liberty Counsel argued that the Open Meetings Law was designed to expose exactly the type of lobbying and deal-making that took place during the passage of the Marriage Equality Act. The Liberty Counsel complaint asks that the entire same-sex marriage act be declared null and void because of the flagrant violations of the law.

Rena Lindevaldsen said, “New York has made the deliberate decision to give its citizens a transparent political process. Governor Cuomo and the State Senate have run roughshod over that guarantee. This case is not about whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. Rather, this case is about holding public officials accountable for their actions and protecting the rule of law.”

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.


Used with the permission of Liberty Counsel