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SDNY Judge Vyskocil Declines To Put AOC Challenger On Ballot With Invalid Signatures

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 15 – In a challenge in the Bronx - Queens Congressional District represented by  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Scherie Murray sued the New York State Board of Elections for cutting the time to gather signatures to appear on the ballot.

 On May 15 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil held a hearing. Inner City Press covered it.   

Judge Vyskocil asked New York State's lawyer, Do you agree that the Constitutional issues could not have been raised in the state court proceeding?    The NYS lawyer said no, and cited a Second Circuit case, "on res judicada grounds." 

  Judge Vyskocil continued, She's saying her right to be on the ballot has been burdened... They are asking me to direct that she be included on the ballot. 

  Another defense lawyer said, I don't think there's any basis for that, when they collected zero valid signatures here. Given the COVID pandemic, the signature requirement was changed. 

   Judge Vyskocil asked, Why not just eliminate the need for wet signatures? 

  The defense lawyer replied, The Executive Order was in March, I don't know if electronic signatures were available then... They sat on their rights. The claim is barred - he cited a Discover Bank case from 2009 about when cases can't be removed from state court. 

   Next Judge Vyskocil was told how difficult it would be to include Murray on the ballot, that testing will begin May 18. "We have to test the ballot scanners, for this district, in the Bronx and Queens, 10 or 15 sites."

    Murray's lawyer said, We did not raise any Constitutional issue in our complaint, only in our memo of law, to let the state court know we were going to go Federal.... The decision wasn't based on the subscribing witness being of another party.

   Judge Vyskocil said, I am going to rule now. Long standing principles of preclusion may be at issue in this case. But that's for another day... The government's minimizing contact, by shortening time for collecting signatures, was reasonable, and narrowly tailored. All of her signatures were invalidated for reasons upheld by Justice Carter in the state court proceeding. The Court also observes that the timing of this application belies any claim of urgency, needed for a TRO. So the motion for a TRO is denied. We'll follow this with a written ruling. If anyone orders the transcript, please file it on the docket.

The case is Murray v. Cuomo, et al., 20-cv-3571 (Vyskocil).


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