New York City--A State Supreme Court judge yesterday struck down a rules change enacted by the State Independence Party and chairman Frank MacKay in June. The rule would have given the State Executive Committee control over the selection of Independence Party candidates in New York City, including for citywide offices in 2009. The court's decision affirms that all such decisions will be made by the New York City organizations.
In June, the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island county organizations of the Independence Party filed suit against MacKay and the party's State Committee. The plaintiffs asserted that local control over city nominations is guaranteed by state law and that party rules could not circumvent that. Brooklyn State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Levine agreed declaring the rule "invalid" asserting that "Although political parties are afforded wide latitude in adopting rules for party governance, such rules cannot conflict with statutory directives."
Attorneys for the plaintiffs were Harry Kresky, counsel to the NYC Independence Party and Michael Hardy, counsel to the National Action Network and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Attorney Harry Kresky stated, "In a series of rulings over the last year the courts have clearly stated that the Independence Party is not above the law. This is an important message, not just to the state party's Executive Committee, but more generally. The doctrine of party rights cannot be used to abuse or undercut democratic protections built into state law. For this reason the decision has ramifications beyond New York. It's important because it defines limits to party power at a time when more and more Americans dislike and distrust political parties."