A New York Democrat says outgoing Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned this week, should still be impeached, even if he’s no longer in office.
New York state Rep. Ron Kim, a Democrat who previously said Cuomo had threatened to “destroy” him for criticizing the governor’s nursing home policy, said on Friday that he had reached out to a Cornell Law School professor for insight on impeaching Cuomo. Kim then posted the professor’s response on Twitter.
Here’s our memo from Robert Hockett @rch371 explaining why the Assembly’s reasoning to not impeach Cuomo is “regrettably short on both legal authority and persuasive authority.”
— Ron T. Kim (@rontkim) August 14, 2021
Robert Hockett, the professor, explained to Kim that the rationale behind the New York State Assembly Speaker’s decision to drop the impeachment probe against Cuomo “is regrettably short on both legal authority and persuasive authority.”
As The Daily Wire reported on Friday, Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, announced that since Cuomo agreed to resign, the impeachment probe would end.
“There are two reasons for this decision. First, the purpose of the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment investigation was to determine whether Governor Cuomo should remain in office. The governor’s resignation answers that directive. Second, we have been advised by Chair Lavine – with the assistance of counsel – of the belief that the constitution does not authorize the legislature to impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office,” said Heastie.
“Let me be clear – the committee’s work over the last several months, although not complete, did uncover credible evidence in relation to allegations that have been made in reference to the governor,” Heastie added. “Underscoring the depth of this investigation, this evidence concerned not only sexual harassment and misconduct but also the misuse of state resources in relation to the publication of the governor’s memoir as well as improper and misleading disclosure of nursing home data during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Professor Hockett noted that this explanation is flawed in its assumption that “removal” as mentioned in state law refers to the physical act of removing Cuomo from the position. Instead, Hockett argued, it is more properly understood to mean that “the Assembly, Senate, and Court of Appeals are to revoke the Governor’s legal status as Governor and his legal eligibility to hold State office again.”
As Hockett explained, “a thief who is indicted for larceny is not able to preempt the indictment by returning the stolen property upon learning that arrest and indictment are imminent.” The reason for this is because the criminal indictment is meant to be a “formal legal expression” of the public’s disapproval of thievery and to brand the thief as a criminal.
“Similarly, the purpose of formal removal of a miscreant official from public office is not simply to empty a physical office space or residential property of the unwelcome physical presence of the official in question. It is, rather, (a) to give formal legal expression to the State’s judgment that the miscreant official is no longer legally fit for office, and (b) formally to stigmatize the official as unfit for office.”
Hockett also noted that Cuomo has not actually tendered his resignation, but merely announced his plans to do so.
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