New York Court Blocks Voting on Abortion and Gender Identity Amendment

 May 10, 2024

A significant legal decision emerged from New York's courts this week.

A judge ruled against the inclusion of a contentious constitutional amendment on the November ballot in New York State.

The amendment, commonly called the Equal Rights Amendment, sought to secure protections against discrimination based on race, sex, gender identity, and reproductive health care. It aimed to fortify fundamental freedoms and enhance legal safeguards in matters including abortion access.

Breitbart News reported that New York State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Doyle found that required procedural protocols were not met because the legislature failed to procure an essential attorney general's opinion before forging ahead.

Justice Daniel Doyle emphasized that amending the Constitution requires rigorous standards. He noted, "The Constitution is the supreme will of the People. Its amendment should be undertaken by strict adherence to the will of the People as expressed in [the state constitution]."

A Disputed Legislative Process

The legislative path of the amendment has been marred by controversy from the beginning. Passed by a Democratic majority for the second time last year, the journey from bill to proposed amendment has witnessed sharp criticisms regarding its procedural handling. Critics, especially among Republicans, argued over the amendment's vagueness and potential broader implications, fearing effects on parental rights and gender-segregated sports.

Republican state Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes took the forefront in challenging the amendment, ultimately leading to the lawsuit that culminated in this ruling.

New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox pinpointed the procedural mishaps, stating, “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.”

Implications and Reactions

The amendment was perceived as a mechanism by Democrats to galvanize voters, especially in the context of ongoing national debates over abortion rights. Its blockage thus represents a procedural defeat and a strategic setback ahead of significant elections.

Expressing disappointment, New York Attorney General Letitia James highlighted the intentions behind the amendment. "The Equal Rights Amendment was advanced to protect New Yorkers’ fundamental rights, including reproductive freedom and access to abortion care.

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.”

Meanwhile, abortion rights remain safeguarded in New York up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, with allowances for later terminations if a woman’s health is jeopardized. However, critics of the amendment continue to express their concerns over its language and scope, suggesting that its implications could extend far beyond its intended purpose.

In conclusion, the legal battle over New York's Equal Rights Amendment has brought forth significant debate over legislative procedures, rights protection, and judicial oversight. As Attorney General Letitia James prepares for an appeal, the discussion remains highly relevant to New York’s legislative integrity and the broader narrative of rights and freedoms in current American discourse.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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