Court: Ravitch is Lt. Gov.! (But Can’t Run Senate, Pending More Hearings)


We figured the courts, which last week temporarily allowed Richard Ravitch to be Lieutenant Governor pending further lawyering, would either give him a permanent thumbs-up or thumbs-down this week. After all, the Republican case against Ravitch’s appointment to LG is Constitutional; either he can be thus appointed, or he can’t.

But though a four-judge appeals panel said Ravitch is indeed Lieutenant Governor, he can’t exercise his most useful function — presiding over the state senate and breaking tie votes — and must wait for the resolution of the GOP suit against him.

At issue was a restraining order meant to keep Ravitch from doing anything as LG, based on arguments (supported by attorney general Andrew Cuomo and challenged by Governor Paterson’s lawyers) that the state Constitution does not allow the Lieutenant Governor’s office to be filled by appointment. Ravitch was sworn in advance of a restraining order obtained by state senators Dean Skelos and Pedro Espada earlier this month.

The judges’ orders are that the restraint be lifted on all aspects of Ravitch’s authority except “from presiding over the New York State Senate or exercising a casting vote therein.” There it stays.

This whole mess came up during the Albany Coup, when the senate was deadlocked and Ravitch’s appointment was expected to break the logjam. Since the Coup was settled on July 9th, the tie-breaking thing is mostly moot, leaving Ravitch’s only meaningful duty as a fill-in for Paterson when he is indisposed by travel, illness, or nightclubbing.

We wonder if the judges considered for a moment restraining Ravitch’s authority to redecorate the Lieutenant Governor’s office, which might at least save us some money.