By: Rich Calder

A controversial new city law that will allow non-citizens to vote in local elections would unconstitutionally bolster the political clout of Hispanic and Asian New Yorkers — at the expense of African-Americans, according to a new lawsuit.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Staten Island Supreme Court by longtime political commentator Deroy Murdock and three other black New Yorkers, claims the City Council violated the 15th Amendment by approving the measure in December with the “discriminatory intent” to strengthen the voting clout of some racial groups over others.

“The Foreign Citizen Voting Bill accomplishes precisely what advocates intended: shifting the electoral power in New York City municipal elections along racial lines to Hispanic and Asian voters and reducing the power of other racial groups,” the suit says. 

J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit representing the plaintiffs, said the process of getting the new law passed was “infested with racial motivation.”

The suit claims former Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), who sponsored the bill that later became law, has publicly said he drafted it with the intention of “increasing the power” of some racial groups.

This is the second suit challenging the measure, which became law last month. Last month, local Republican elected officials filed legal papers arguing that under state law only US citizens can participate in the city’s elections.

The new law will allow non-citizens to register in political parties and vote in city elections if they’re green-card holders or authorized to work in the country. More than 800,000 New Yorkers are currently covered under the legislation, including 622,000 green-card holders.

Both suits seek a court injunction to block the city’s Board of Elections from implementing the changes, which could go into effect as early as next year.

City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island), a plaintiff in the earlier lawsuit, said the new suit “provides another argument” of why the new law is “unconstitutional.”

Borelli has long called for the matter to be settled through a public referendum. The new suit says the city under its own laws must hold a public referendum before any revisions are made to how local elected offices are filled.

The city’s BOE and the City Council’s office declined comment.

Murdock offers political commentary as a regular contributor to the New York Post, Fox News and other media outlets.

Public Interest Legal Foundation