NATIONAL NEWS

New York’s ‘equal rights’ constitutional amendment restored to ballot by appeals court

Jun 18, 2024, 3:55 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A proposed amendment to New York’s constitution barring discrimination based on “gender identity” and “pregnancy outcomes” was restored to the November election ballot Tuesday by a state appeals court.

In a short decision, a panel of midlevel appellate judges overturned a May decision by an upstate judge to strike the proposed Equal Rights Amendment from the ballot.

That justice, Daniel Doyle, had ruled that state lawmakers had made a fatal procedural error in an earlier round of approvals for the proposed amendment.

In overturning that decision, the appellate division judges cited a different legal issue: They said the people who had sued to try and block the amendment had missed a deadline to bring their legal challenge, and are now barred from getting relief from the courts by a four-month statute of limitations.

“This is a huge victory in our efforts to protect access to abortion in New York and to protect many vulnerable communities from discrimination,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

The New York Constitution currently bans discrimination based on race, color, creed or religion. The proposed amendment would add ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes and reproductive health care and autonomy to the list.

The amendment wouldn’t explicitly preserve a woman’s right to have an abortion, but would effectively prevent someone from being discriminated against for having the procedure.

Voters in the 2024 election would need to approve the amendment for it to become final.

Democrats in New York have hoped putting an issue related to abortion on the ballot might spur voter turnout.

The lawsuit challenging it was brought by Republican state Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes, whose office did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Doyle’s initial ruling was that lawmakers incorrectly approved the language in the amendment before getting a written opinion from the attorney general.

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