US Law – Cravath Argument Accepted In Decision Permitting Bloomberg To Run For Third Term – Legal Newswire Service –
On April 28, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court’s decision granting a motion for summary judgment in favor of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the New York City Council and dismissing the plaintiffs’ challenge to the New York City term-limits amendment, Local Law 51 of 2008. This decision clears the way for Mayor Bloomberg to run in November 2009 for a third term in office.

Cravath partner Robert D. Joffe, with the assistance of Patrick A. Meagher, represented the Partnership for New York City, Inc. as amicus curiae. The Partnership’s brief focused on the argument that the conflict-of-interest provisions of the City Charter should not be read to prohibit elected officials from voting on legislation that improves the terms and conditions of their own office since such improvements do not constitute “personal” or “private” benefits under the Charter. The Court of Appeals’ decision accepts that argument. Local Law 51 allows the Mayor and Council Members to serve a maximum of three consecutive terms in office. The Local Law amended the term-limits provisions of the City Charter, which previously provided for a maximum of two consecutive terms in office and which were enacted by a city-wide referendum in 1993.

The plaintiffs, including the Comptroller and Public Advocate of New York City, and several current members of the New York City Council who voted against the legislation at issue, argued that by amending the term-limits laws through City Council legislation, the defendants had undermined the referendum process and acted out of self-interest to entrench themselves in office. However, the Court ruled that Local Law 51 did not violate the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights, substantive due process rights, New York State referendum law or the City Charter’s conflict-of-interest provisions.

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