Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Judge Tosses Out Term Limits Lawsuit - NY1

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A federal judge Tuesday tossed out a lawsuit against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, saying there is not enough evidence to prove he violated constitutional amendments in his successful bid to extend term limits. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Chalk up another win for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

After convincing the city council to extend term limits last year, the mayor got a court decision on Tuesday that backs up his move.

Throwing out a lawsuit, federal Judge Charles Sifton said the council and the mayor had the legal authority to amend the two-term limit law voters twice approved in the 1990's.

But plaintiffs in the case, many of whom are elected officials, said they aren't giving up.

"This fight is not over. The people have still not spoken and the people of this city want to decide this issue. There's no question in my mind," said Brooklyn Councilman Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio and others argued it was unconstitutional and a violation of due process for a term-limited mayor and council to extend term limits for themselves. Under the previous law, elected officials had only been able to hold office for two consecutive terms. Now, it's three.

The judge's ruling also made one thing very clear, according to one supporter.

"The people of the City of New York will have the choice and the time to vote, but have the chance to vote for everyone. And give everyone the opportunity to vote for everyone who wishes to run for a position," said Brooklyn Councilman Domenic Recchia.

The next step for the defeated plaintiffs is up in the air. They said they'll decide soon whether they will appeal.

"I believe that there are grounds for an appeal. I believe that judge Sifton got it wrong, especially with regard to the fundamental right to vote. And that you need to have a public referendum to overturn a previous public referendum," said Civil Rights Attorney Norman Siegel.

Another factor in the mix are bills sponsored by Democrats in both houses of the state legislature seeking to undo the law, instead requiring a referendum to change term limits.

Even if the decision is appealed, it's unlikely to have any immediate impact.

For weeks now, dozens of politicians throughout the city have been plotting their political futures based on the assumption that the term limits extension will stand.