Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The Second Circuit has issued its opinion in 09-0331-cv, Molinari v. Bloomberg, affirming the district court's rejection of challenges to Mayor Michael Bloomberg seeking a third term, despite previously approved term limits. As the Second Circuit noted,
The challenge raised several claims: a First Amendment claim that by amending the 1993 Voter Initiative through City Council legislation, the defendants discourage voters from participating in the referendum process in the future; a substantive due process claim that by passing legislation with the sole purpose of extending their own political careers and entrenching incumbents, the defendants violated the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as two state and local claims, based on laws mandating referendum as the mechanism to enact legislation regarding term limits, and the City Charter’s conflict of interest provisions.
The court’s analysis of the substantive due process claim merits some discussion. The Second Circuit panel writes:
Opinion at 34. It isn't clear how the panel is using "suspect classification" in its due process analysis. However, applying rationality review, the panel states:
The due process analysis and the opinion as a whole demonstrate how difficult it can be to prevail on constitutional (or other) claims against legislative action that is objected to as "self-serving." While the Second Circuit opinion does not discuss "political questions" as a prudential (or Article III) restraint, such values are deeply embedded in the opinion.