NY Attorney General Appeals Reversal of Bi-Partisan Equal Rights Amendment

Critics of the bi-partisan ERA allege the amendment would impact parental rights and anti-discrimination laws.

The New York Attorney General’s office filed a notice yesterday appealing Justice Daniel Doyle’s decision that the state’s Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), also known as Proposition 1, violates Article 19 of the state Constitution.

A panel of five Rochester judges will hear the case in the Fourth Department’s Appellate Division.

“What’s at stake in this lawsuit is the rule of law and the will of the people,” New York civil rights attorney Bobbie Anne Cox told The Epoch Times. “It’s truly disappointing when the people have to take the time, energy, and expense to bring a lawsuit to force their elected officials to follow the Constitution.”

Ms. Cox filed the lawsuit in Livingston County Court on Oct. 30, 2023, against both chambers of the New York state Legislature on behalf of Assemblymember Marjorie Byrnes (R-N.Y.), alleging the chamber didn’t follow proper procedure before voting to place the bipartisan amendment on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

Ms. Byrnes did not respond to requests for comment.

“What they [the Legislature] did here is they referred this to the Attorney General, and then they voted the very same day,” Ms. Cox told The Epoch Times in a phone interview. “The Attorney General has 20 days to issue that opinion but they didn’t wait at all.”

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The New York Legislature voted on Proposition 1 on July 1, 2022, and New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a written opinion in support of the amendment on July 6, 2022.

If Ms. James, a Democrat, wins on appeal, the initiative adding 11 new discrimination categories to the state Constitution will appear on November’s general election ballot.

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference at the Office of the Attorney General in New York on Feb. 16, 2024. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)
New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference at the Office of the Attorney General in New York on Feb. 16, 2024. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s really not political because although my lead plaintiff, Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes, is Republican, my other plaintiffs are Democrats and I’m a registered Democrat,” Ms. Cox added.

Elected officials named in the lawsuit include Democrat Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Republican Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, Democrat Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Republican Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay, and the New York State Board of Elections.

New York Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins speaks during an event at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City on Feb. 20, 2018. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
New York Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins speaks during an event at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City on Feb. 20, 2018. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Ms. James is undeterred in her support of Proposition 1 as a way to codify abortion access rights.

“The Equal Rights Amendment was advanced to protect New Yorkers’ fundamental rights, including reproductive freedom and access to abortion care,” she said in a statement. “New Yorkers deserve to be protected by their Constitution, especially as our basic freedoms and rights are under attack.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) greets members on his way to a Democratic conference at the Capitol before the start of the legislative session in Albany, N.Y., on Jan. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) greets members on his way to a Democratic conference at the Capitol before the start of the legislative session in Albany, N.Y., on Jan. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

However, socially conservative groups, such as the Coalition to Protect Kids New York, is vowing to fight the amendment because it grants protected status statewide for, not only abortion access, but also based on age and gender identity.

“If medical providers can’t discriminate based on age and gender identity, they could be required to facilitate minor requests for everything from gender reassignment surgeries to dental work, you name it,” Coalition to Protect Kids New York executive director Greg Garvey told The Epoch Times.

Currently, only discrimination based on race, color, creed, or religion is prohibited.

Other categories that would be protected from discrimination, if voters approve Proposition 1, are ethnicity, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy.

“One of the other big takeaways of Prop 1 is that schools could be banned from disclosing to parents that their children are trying to gender transition,” Mr. Garvey added.

Sasha Neha Ahuja, campaign director of New Yorkers for Equal Rights, which supports the amendment, did not respond to requests for comment.

William Jacobson, Clinical Law Professor at Cornell Law School and founder of Legal Insurrection Foundation, speaks during an American Thought Leaders interview in Washington on Aug. 1, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
William Jacobson, Clinical Law Professor at Cornell Law School and founder of Legal Insurrection Foundation, speaks during an American Thought Leaders interview in Washington on Aug. 1, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
But in a Facebook post on May 14, the group stated, “We are confident the New York Equal Rights Amendment will be on the ballot in November. This appeal is a crucial step toward ensuring voters get to decide the future of our rights and reproductive freedoms. This attack is nothing new: from the Dobbs decision to state courthouses across the country, anti-abortion extremists are using the judiciary every chance they get to exploit loopholes to take power from the people and block our reproductive freedoms.”

William Jacobson, founder of Legal Insurrection Foundation (LIF) and clinical law professor at Cornell Law School, sees Subsection B of the proposed amendment as a diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) concept that would impact anti-discrimination laws if approved.

LIF is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) in Rhode Island.

“If somebody said ‘Jews occupy too large a percentage of a profession or apartment building,’ that’s currently illegal, but if you said, ‘There’s been discrimination in favor of Jews and I am now dismantling that discrimination,’ that would be a valid argument under this new Constitution,” Mr. Jacobson told The Epoch Times.

The New York State Board of Elections declined to comment.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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