Fort Ann constitutionalist Bob Schulz’ lawsuit seeking to halt the implementation of the NY Safe Act has bumped to a midlevel court, as it continued its march toward the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.
Justice Edward Spain, of the state Supreme Court Appellate Division, ordered the state late last week to respond to Schulz’ claim by Friday or risk a temporary injunction on the law’s implementation while the lawsuit’s constitutional merits are hashed out.
Spain’s order follow’s last week’s decision by Albany County state Supreme Court Justice Thomas McNamara. McNamara ruled the low-level state court can’t decide on Schulz’ claim that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s message of necessity is unconstitutional because the issue is already well established by Court of Appeals precedent.
“It is clear that judicial intervention, judicial review of a message of necessity, is not allowed,” McNamara said last week.
The Appellate Division could overturn McNamara’s interpretation and issue a ruling, or uphold his decision that New York’s Supreme Courts aren’t capable of broaching the topic.
But regardless of how the Appellate Division rules late next week, the lawsuit is almost assuredly headed toward a Court of Appeals showdown between the local activist and state attorneys.
Schulz argues that the “message of necessity,” offered by Cuomo and approved by lawmakers so the NY Safe Act could be adopted without the traditional three-day cooling-off period, was based on false claims of fact.
“Where’s the need for speed here?” Schulz said Tuesday, citing the fact that the meatiest parts of the crackdown don’t take effect until April.
Cuomo argued after the Jan. 15 passage of the controversial crackdown on assault-style guns and high-capacity magazines that the fast-track was needed to avoid a run on the very guns the state was looking to ban.
Michael Wyland, spokesman for Assembly Majority Leader Sheldon Silver, noted last month that the message of necessity was vetted and approved by lawmakers in accordance with the state Constitution.
“This message of necessity is a clear abuse of power,” Schulz said.
Cuomo’s popularity has precipitously dropped since the passage of the NY Safe Act. He still enjoys a 55 percent approval rating, according to Tuesday’s Quinnipiac University poll, but that represents a 19 percentage-point decline in popularity since December. Tuesday’s poll represents the first time a majority of Republicans disapproved of New York’s Democratic governor.
Assembly minority Republicans are championing legislation to severely restrict when a message of necessity can be used. The legislation isn’t carried by any member from the Democratic Assembly majority, which dominates the lower-house’s floor.
More than two dozen upstate counties have passed local legislation opposing the NY Safe Act and the message of necessity used to push it through so quickly.
Warren County Sheriff Bud York and Saratoga County Sheriff James Bowen are among the more than 1,200 New York citizens challenging the state through Schulz’ lawsuit. Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy recently drafted a letter in which he states the NY Safe Act doesn’t actually make anyone safer. The Safe Act turns otherwise law-abiding gun owners into potential felons, Murphy wrote.
“I represent all the people, and I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of New York,” Murphy wrote.