NY's abortion rights amendment is off the ballot for now

 May 8, 2024

On Tuesday, a bill that would have added abortion rights and addressed other issues to the New York constitution was removed off the ballot.

This is devastating news for Democrats who were hoping to get voters to weigh in on the topic in November, as reported by Politico.

The initiative was defeated in a court ruling by a conservative judge in upstate Livingston County who questioned the constitutionality of the ballot question.

With six House districts up for grabs in New York that could decide chamber control next year, Democrats are hoping the proposal will increase voter turnout in a pivotal election year.

Response from Democrats

The Democratic Party intends to file an appeal on the grounds that the ERA, along with similar measures in other states, will be allowed to remain on the November ballot by the Democratically controlled Supreme Court.

They have been making plans to spend $20 million to disenfranchise voters by highlighting the ERA and how it codified abortion rights into the Constitution.

“This is a disappointing court decision, but we will appeal because New Yorkers deserve to be protected by their Constitution, especially as our basic freedoms and rights are under attack,” Attorney General Tish James said in a statement.

Republican Traction

Republicans gained momentum on the issue, however, in the interim, as a result of the ruling in the lawsuit filed by Assembly Republican Marjorie Byrnes.

“Once again the legislature and Governor Hochul are found to have violated the state constitution,” state GOP Chair Ed Cox said in a statement.

“In their rush to pass this amendment, the Legislature never held a single hearing on the proposal, never consulted with outside constitutional experts, and falsely asserted this amendment was necessary to protect abortion rights in the state.”

According to Byrnes, the Democrats skipped several necessary procedures before submitting the amendment to the voters.

State Law

The state constitution states that the attorney general is to be given 20 days to provide an opinion on whether the proposed amendment contradicts with other provisions of the constitution before lawmakers vote on it.

The modification was brought up for consideration and ultimately approved on July 1, 2022, prior to the provision of an opinion.

“In order to amend the constitution, the majority violated the constitution,” Byrnes said in an interview earlier this year.

Democratic arguments that they had substantially complied with constitutional requirements were rejected by Supreme Court Judge Daniel Doyle.

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