Atlantic Legal Foundation Scores Victory Over Cuomo in Cub Case

Atlantic Legal Foundation today announced that it was victorious in its suit to block Governor Cuomo’s creation of a private "citizens utility board" (CUB).

In deciding the case brought by the Foundation in June 1991, the Appellate Division, Third Department of the Supreme Court of New York on Thursday ruled that Governor Cuomo’s January 1991 executive order authorizing the creation of CUB was unconstitutional. The executive order had allowed the CUB to take advantage of mailings by state agencies to recruit members and raise funds.

"We are very gratified that the appellate court declared unconstitutional Governor Cuomo’s assumption of legislative prerogatives" said Douglas Foster, President of Atlantic Legal Foundation. "This is also a victory for New York taxpayers, because they already are paying for three government agencies — the Consumer Protection Board, the Attorney General and the staff of the Public Service Commission — which are charged with protecting the interests of utility consumers."

Atlantic Legal Foundation brought the suit, Pierre Bourquin v. Mario M. Cuomo, on behalf of three taxpayers, including John Faso, an Assemblyman from upstate Kinderhook, New York and Citizens for a Sound Economy, a Washington-based citizens good government group with over 20,000 members in New York and 200,000 members nation-wide.

Atlantic Legal Foundation sought to have Governor Cuomo’s executive- order nullified on the ground that it violated the constitutional principle of separation of powers, which gives the legislature the power to establish government policies, and gives the executive branch the power to implement or carry out those policies.

Martin Kaufman, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Atlantic Legal Foundation, who argued the case for the plaintiffs said "The decision of the appellate court clearly recognizes the principle that our constitution vests lawmaking power in the elected legislative representatives, not in the Executive Branch. Governor Cuomo had tried to get legislation passed to create a CUB; when the Legislature refused to pass such a law, he tried an ‘end run’ by issuing his executive order. The decision sends a clear signal to Governor Cuomo and to his successors that the Executive Branch cannot circumvent the constitutional principle of separation of powers and the normal legislative process merely because the Legislature will not bend to the Governor’s will." Atlantic Legal Foundation is a non-profit public interest law firm which represents individuals, associations, citizen groups and corporations in cases involving broad public policy issues and often involving constitutional law issues.

Atlantic Legal Foundation advocates in the courts the principles of limited and responsible government, the benefits of the private enterprise system and individual rights. CONTACT: Atlantic Legal Foundation, Inc., 212-573-1960