'No open debate': Blue state judge removes controversial ballot initiative after backlash over parents' rights


The controversial Equal Rights Amendment, which was on the ballot for the November elections in New York, has been tossed by a judge on procedural grounds.

The ruling is a victory for Republicans and opponents of the bill who say it was written too broadly and could trample parents’ rights when it comes to decisions like children receiving gender-affirming procedures.

The ERA was a rapid response by New York Democrats to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization decision in June 2022. The amendment passed both houses of the New York legislature in a special session just one week after the Dobbs decision was rendered.

The amendment, which advocates say is meant to enshrine women’s right to abortion in the Empire State, was passed so quickly that a judge in Livingston County determined the legislation was fatally flawed due to a procedural mistake.

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Gov. Kathy Hochul

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (AP Photo/Hans Pennink/File)

Bobbie Anne Cox, the attorney who sued the legislature to stop the referendum, said, “They put forth this amendment to the constitution. There was no open debate. There was no public hearings, there was nothing.”

“They referred it to the AG that day, but then they voted that same day. They didn’t even wait one day,” Cox continued.

The New York constitution requires that a proposed amendment must be presented to the attorney general to ensure that the proposal is not in conflict with other provisions of the constitution. The AG has 20 days to respond.

New York state capitol

The New York State Capitol (AP Photo/Hans Pennink/File)

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Supreme Court Justice Daniel J. Doyle declared the amendment “null and void” because the Democrats did not wait for the AG’s analysis.

“For them to violate the constitution and to want to do that in order to change the constitution is not acceptable, in fact it’s dangerous for the people, for the citizens,” Cox said.

Following the decision, Democrats have promised an appeal. Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement, “Our decades-long fight to protect equality and reproductive freedom will not be thrown off track by one extremist judge and I look forward to casting my ballot for the Equal Rights Amendment in November.”

Flier against New York's Equal Rights Act proposal

The Coalition to Protect Kids – New York says an upcoming ballot proposal would ban parents from approving their child’s transgender surgery. (Coalition to Protect Kids – New York)

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Opponents of the amendment include former House Republican John Faso, who praised the decision to toss the referendum, calling the amendment “a cynical maneuver to try to boost [voter] turnout based on a false premise that abortion is at risk.”

Faso pointed to the legislature’s adoption of abortion rights legislation in 1970. He said the ERA goes far beyond guaranteeing a right to abortion.

“It would, for instance, give a minor a right to so-called gender-affirming care, puberty blockers even surgeries, without permission, without consent of their parents,” Faso said.

“It would also, for instance, say that biological males could compete on girls sports teams,” he added.

“Any decent lawyer will take one look at the Proposition One language and say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,” Greg Garvey, the executive director of the Coalition to Protect Kids – New York, a group “dedicated to defeating the Equal Rights Amendment,” said in a statement to Fox News Digital.

“This ballot initiative is written so broadly and so poorly that it could cause irreparable harm to children and families,” he continued. “This is no soft-sounding equal rights amendment, it’s nothing less than the parent replacement act.”

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Democrat MaryJane Shimsky, a member of the New York State Assembly and advocate for the referendum, pushed back on opponents’ criticism, saying, “We need the ERA now precisely because of the extremists who would scapegoat children for political gain and the dangers their culture wars are creating in our communities.”

“New Yorkers know that we are stronger together and when we stand up for each other,” Shimsky continued. “Should the ERA proposition be restored to the ballot, I expect that it will pass with broad popular support.”

New York Senate leadership did not respond to Fox Digital’s request for comment.



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