While the city appears calm as the cat who ate the canary, opponents of the City Council’s recent vote to extend their stay in City Hall for another four years are licking their lips at the opportunity for their day in court.
Either way, both sides will have their say come 4:30 p.m. this Monday, Jan. 5, at the federal courthouse at 225 Cadman Plaza East in Downtown Brooklyn when oral arguments on the merits of the term limits lawsuit will begin.
“I am very pleased with the speed with which the judge has moved this case along, and I look forward to the attorneys making oral arguments on the case’s merits on Monday,” said City Council member Bill de Blasio, who along with City Council member Letitia James are the two ranking Brooklyn plaintiffs in the suit to rescind the legislation.
“This case represents an opportunity to achieve the justice that was taken away in November when the mayor and the City Council voted to extend term limits and silence the will of the voters,” he added.
The plaintiffs seek to invalidate the law, and further seek the court’s declaration that a fundamental change in the city’s term limits law, such as the extension enacted by the Council and the mayor, requires a public referendum. Voters have twice voted in favor of two four-year terms for all city office holders.
The plaintiffs allege that Mayor Michael Bloomberg acted illegally when he called for a vote to give himself, city leaders and Council members another term in office.
The city has argued thus far, according to papers they submitted to the court, that the legislation does not violate any voters’ rights as a matter of law, and that the City Council has a right to modify term limits without voter approval as part of the “Municipal Home Rule Law.”
When asked for a comment on Monday’s oral argument hearing, a City Law Department spokesperson said, “We’re unable to comment on this due to the pending litigation.”
– With Tom Tracy