Worms by the can (.PDF ALERT ZONE AHEAD!)

My comments after the fiirst meeting of the new New Paltz village board included a wary note about something the new mayor, Terry Dungan, had said. The audio of the public access broadcast was not good, so I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly. But here’s what he said, as reported in the New Paltz Times:

Dungan went on to note that throughout history “legislatures have passed prejudicial laws that were contrary to the Constitution. Because we are sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the New York State Constitution, if a board is confronted with a law that is in conflict with the Constitution we are bound to uphold the Constitution and not the law.”

That, almost word for word, was the “legal theory” employed by former mayor Jason West to justify performing same-sex marriage ceremonies. It was (.PDF ALERT!) completely debunked (.PDF ALERT!) by the Appellatte Division of the New York Supreme Court, a decision later allowed to stand by the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, when it refused to hear West’s final appeal.

Briefly, while officials of a local government have some narrow grounds to challenge a state law, their recourse in those instances is through the courts. The New Paltz village board is not a judicial body with the competence to decide even what is or is not a Constitutional issue, let alone make a determination about Constitutionality and then act on its own determination. To continue to assert the local myth of the “West doctrine,” even without any intent to pursue it, is tomfoolery.

(END .PDF ALERT ZONE)

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