Constitutional Convention Referendum 2017 and Home Rule within the Empire State
Since the end of the 19th century, “home rule”—the authority of local governments to exercise self-government—has been a matter of constitutional principle in New York. In 1963, Article IX of the state constitution, the so-called “home rule” article, was amended to provide the constitutional foundation for local self-government. However, the amount of local autonomy it provides in practice is debatable, as the state government continues to play a major—and often controversial—role in local matters. The continuing challenge is how to balance the needs of local governments, while also assuring that the state can address problems that transcend local boundaries.
On November 7, 2017, New York voters will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to amend the state constitution, a question included on New York ballots every 20 years. One significant factor in deciding that issue is the constitution’s treatment of local governments and state-local relations, often captured by the idea of home rule.
This fall, Columbia Law School and the Rockefeller Institute of Government will host the event “Constitutional Convention Referendum 2017 and Home Rule within the Empire State,” a special program designed to acquaint attendees with issues relating to home rule and state-local relations in New York and the implications for a possible constitutional convention. Details are as follows:
Jerome Greene Hall
Columbia Law School
435 W. 116th Street
New York, NY 10021
Thursday, October 20, 2016
This event is open to the public, but registration is required. Attorneys licensed in New York may receive 1.5 credit hours of CLE for attending.
Henry M. Greenberg
Henry M. Greenberg is a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig in Albany and currently serves as chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on the New York State Constitution. Among the public sector posts he has held, Greenberg served as counsel to the New York State attorney general; as general counsel for the New York State Department of Health; as assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York; and as a law clerk to then Judge Judith S. Kaye of the New York State Court of Appeals (Kaye went on to serve as chief judge).
Other panelists for the program:
Gerald Benjamin is the associate vice president for regional engagement and director of the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz. He previously served as chair of the school’s Department of Political Science and as dean of the school’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Benjamin is also former director of New York State and Local Studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government. From 1993 to 1995, he served as research director for the NYS Constitution Revision Commission; he was co-editor, with Hank Dullea, of the Commission’s papers, published as Decision ’97 by the Rockefeller Institute (1997). Benjamin is co-editor (with Peter Galie and Christopher Bopst) of the forthcoming volume New York’s Broken Constitution: The Governance Crisis and the Path to Renewed Greatness (SUNY Press, 2016).
Richard Briffault is the Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation at Columbia Law School. His research, writing, and teaching focus on state and local government law, legislation, the law of the political process, government ethics, and property. In addition, Briffault was appointed chair of the Conflicts of Interest Board of the City of New York, was a member of New York State’s Moreland Act Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, and was as a member of or consultant to several New York City and state commissions dealing with state and local governance, including: the New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency & Competitiveness, the Temporary New York Commission on Constitutional Revision, the New York City Real Property Tax Reform Commission, and the New York City Charter Revision Commission. Briffault joined the Columbia Law School faculty in 1983. He was law clerk to the Honorable Shirley M. Hufstedler of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and was assistant counsel to New York Governor Hugh L. Carey.
Richard Brodsky is a senior fellow at Demos and NYU Wagner. He previously served 14 terms in the New York State Assembly, where he chaired the Committee on Environmental Conservation and the Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions. During his tenure as a member of the legislature, Brodsky was active in numerous constitutional reform issues and authored an amendment to the New York State Constitution.
Michael A. Cardozo ’66
Michael A. Cardozo ’66 is a partner in Proskauer Rose’s litigation department and the former corporation counsel for the City of New York. As the 77th and longest-serving corporation counsel, he was the city’s chief legal officer and led its Law Department, comprised of more than 700 lawyers. He also served as legal counsel to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, elected officials, the city, and its agencies. Now at Proskauer, Cardozo represents a wide range of clients in general commercial litigation and arbitration matters. He also helps to oversee the firm’s pro bono practice.
Roberta Kaplan ’91
Roberta Kaplan ’91 is a partner in the litigation department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and a lecturer in law at Columbia Law School. She successfully argued on behalf of Edith Windsor in the U.S. Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor, where the Court ruled that the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. Kaplan has extensive experience representing clients such as Airbnb, Fitch Ratings, and JPMorgan Chase in complex, high-profile matters. She has been selected as one of the country’s 100 most influential lawyers, and her legal work has been honored by a number of organizations, including the New York City Council and the National Organization for Women. Kaplan is the author of the book Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA and has published numerous articles on a variety of legal topics.
Information Regarding New York CLE Credits:
Columbia Law School has been certified by the New York State Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Board as an Accredited Provider of CLE programs. Under New York State CLE regulations, this live transitional and non-transitional CLE Program will provide 1.5 credit hours that can be applied toward the Areas of Professional Practice requirement. CLE credit is awarded only to experienced New York attorneys for full attendance of the Program in its entirety. Attorneys attending only part of a Program are not eligible for partial credit for it, although they are most welcome to attend it. Attendance is determined by an attorney's sign-in and sign-out, as shown in the Conference registers. On sign-out, attorneys should also submit their completed Evaluation Form, provided at the Conference. Please note the NYS Certificates of Attendance will be sent to the email address as it appears in the register unless otherwise noted there.
View the CLE packet for more information
Columbia Law School is pleased to partner with the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government of SUNY, the Government Law Center at Albany Law School, the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz, the League of Women Voters of New York State, New York Law School, and the Siena Research Institute in the organization of this program. For the past year-and-a-half, this coalition has worked to promote awareness and understanding of the upcoming constitutional convention referendum. This event is sponsored by the Harold Leventhal Memorial Lecture Fund.