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On July 8, 2009, Governor David Paterson surprised New York's legal and political world by announcing his intention to appoint Richard Ravitch to fill the vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor. No New York governor had ever appointed a lieutenant governor before. Paterson's action was widely denounced as unauthorized and unconstitutional. Four months later, observers were even more astonished when the Court of Appeals in Skelos v. Paterson upheld the governor's action. This article explains why the governor and Court of Appeals were right to conclude that the governor had statutory and constitutional authority for his action. Indeed, the case for the governor's action is quite straightforward and surprisingly strong. That authority follows from the plain text of a statute, the leading judicial precedent, and the relevant provisions of the state constitution. By contrast, the case against the governor's action was quite weak, relying more on extra-textual and policy concerns than the law itself.


Constitutional Law | Law