New York's top court has agreed to speed up Gov. David Paterson's appeal of lower court rulings that found his appointment of a lieutenant governor unconstitutional.
The Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments Sept. 11 and has ordered legal briefs in advance from lawyers for Paterson and the Republican senators who challenged his appointment of Richard Ravitch as the state's number two executive.
Normally it takes about seven months to bring oral arguments before the top court's seven judges. Paterson requested expedited consideration Monday and the court agreed Tuesday.
Last week, an appeals court ruled that Paterson's appointment of Ravitch was unlawful, upholding a constitutional challenge brought by the state Senate's minority leader. The panel concluded no state law or constitutional provision allows the lieutenant governor's post to be filled by anything but an election.
Senate Republicans had said Paterson's appointment of Ravitch, a longtime government adviser, was unconstitutional. Lawyers for the Democratic governor argued that state law allowed Paterson to fill the post until the next election.
The Democratic governor tapped Ravitch for the post on July 8 to break up a Senate leadership logjam and has maintained that state law allowed the appointment. Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos said the state constitution did not.
"I would love to get some clarity about what my status is, cause I feel as if I have been living in the middle of a sitcom," Ravitch has said. Asked if he felt like he didn't have a job, Ravitch said, "Well, I have a task."
Paterson was lieutenant governor under former Gov. Eliot Spitzer who resigned amid a prostitution scandal.