This article has been accepted for publication in the State ConstitutionalCommentary issue of the
Albany Law Review
forthcoming in 2013
Automatic Lieutenant Gubernatorial Succession: Preventing LegislativeGridlock without Sacrificing the Elective Principle
Patrick A. Woods
In June of 2009 the government of the State of New York came to a shudderinghalt.
Two candidates for Temporary President of the senate, the office thatrepresents party control, commanded equal votes for the position.
The tie-breakingvote would ordinarily have been cast by the lieutenant-governor but, due to theresignation of Eliot Spitzer and elevation of David Paterson, that position wasvacant.
The uncertainty as to who held the position paralyzed senate operationsand left open a very real question as to who would succeed to the governorshipshould something happen to then governor Paterson.
The delay caused by theimpasse cost state and local governments $2.9 billion.
The deadlock promptedPaterson to appoint Richard Ravich to lieutenant-governor, marking the first timein New York history that any governor had attempted to fill that post despite
Patrick A. Woods is a J.D. Candidate at Albany Law School, class of 2012. He is the 2011–2012Editor-in-Chief of the
Albany Law Review
. He received his B.A. in philosophy from State Universityof New York at Stony Brook in 2005 and is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science.
Eric Lane & Laura Seago,
Albany’s Dysfunction Denies Due Process
, 30 P
. 965, 965(2010) [hereinafter “
”] (“The coup that shut down the New York state Senate forover a month last summer brought the State legislature’s dysfunction to the forefront of publicconsciousness.”)
Skelos v. Patterson, 915 N.E.2d 1141, 1142 (N.Y. 2009).
Jeremy W. Peters,
Who Would Lead New York if Paterson Left
(July 6,2009), http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/nyregion/07succession.html?scp=2&sq=%22Senate%20impasse% 20in%20albany%22&st=cse.
Richard Briffault, Skelos v. Paterson:
The Surprisingly Strong Case for The Governor’s Surprising Power to Appoint a Lieutenant-governor
, 73 Alb. L. Rev. 675, 680 (2010) (citing Press Release, Officeof the New York State Comptroller, Cost of State Senate Inaction to New Yorkers (July 2, 2009),http://www.osc.state.ny.us/press /releases/jul09/070209factsheet.htm.).