The supreme court dismissed the complaint for failure to state grounds for relief because the Constitution does not specifically mandate a time limit for presentment. The Appellate Division affirmed, reaching the merits of the case in holding that for the courts to decide such a matter would interfere with internal matters of the Legislature and that the Constitution does not expressly require presentment for all bills.
The specific question of the ability of the legislature to withhold a bill from the Governor prior to presentment had not previously been addressed by the New York courts. A related case, King v. Cuomo, 81 N.Y.2d 247 (N.Y. 1993), held that the legislature could not recall a bill after it has been sent to the Governor but before the Governor has had a chance to pass on it. The Court held that for the Legislature to reacquire bills would be unconstitutional as the "recall" practice was not specificaly enumerated in the Constitution. The court also found that the "recall" practice "undermin[ed] the integrity of the law making processs as well as the underlying rationale for the demarcation of authority and power in this process." King, 81 N.Y.2d at 255.
Article IV § 7 of the New York Constitution reads, "Every bill which shall have passed the senate and assembly shall, before it becomes law, be presented to the governor." Relying on several Supreme Court cases (United States v Munoz-Flores, 495 U.S. 385, 403 (1990); Field v. Clark, 143 U.S. 649, 672 (1892); INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919, 946 (1983)) and an Illinois case (People ex rel. Peterson v. Hughes, 25 N.E.2d 75, 78 (Ill. 1939)) the court reads an implicit requirement into Article IV § 7 that a bill which has passed both houses be presented to the governor in a reasonable time.
The court further finds that public policy reasons require the delivery of bills to the Governor within a reasonable period of time. The court notes that without a reasonableness requirement certain individuals could effectively "nullify the express vote and will of the People's representatives" by refusing to deliver bills to the governor which have already passed both houses of the legislature.
ILLINOIS: The Supreme Court of Illinois in People ex rel. Peterson v. Hughes, 25 N.E.2d 75 (Ill. 1939) interpreted the Illinois constitution to require the delivery of bills to the governor and that the governor has a ten day period within which he may act on a bill after presentment. However, the court stated that they did not seek to "impair the legislative power to fix the time of presentment," Peterson, 25 N.E.2d at 80, and that the legislature has "the power to determine when a bill shall be presented to the governor" but that power is "inferior to the constitutional provision which places upon the governor the duty to examine all bills, and which grants him ten days for consideration." Peterson at 79. Consequently, although the court in Marino cites this case favorably, the Illinois court did not pass specifically on the issue of the time frame for presentment. However, the Illinois Constitution does state specifically that "every bill passed by the General Assembly shall be presented to the governor within 30 calendar days after its passage." Ill. Const. art. IV, § 9.
NEW JERSEY: In a case about gubernatorial "pocket veto's" the New Jersey Supreme Court stated that although "the legislature is constitutionally required to present passed bills to the governor, the timing of such presentment is discretionary, and a rule or practice delaying presentment is well within the legislative prerogative." Gilbert v. Gladden, 432 A.2d 1351, 1355 (N.J. 1981).
VERMONT: A Vermont case dealing with presentment after adjournment of the legislature held that although no time requirement for presentment exists "public officers are bound to perform their duties with diligence and fidelity." Hartness v. Black, 114 A. 44, 50 (Vt. 1921).
WEST VIRGINIA: The West Virginia Supreme Court in State v. Heston, 71 S.E.2d 481 (W. Va. 1952) stated that the constitution of that state had no specific time requirement for presentment and that the Court had yet to rule on the matter.
KENTUCKY: Section 56 of the Kentucky Constitution requires bills to be presented immediately to the Governor after passing both houses of the legislature.
Several other states have language similar to that of New York's Constitution but have not yet faced litigation on the subject: California -- Article IV, § 10(a); Georgia -- Article III, § V; paragraph XIII (a); Indiana -- Article 5, § 14; Texas -- Article IV, § 14 and Utah -- Article VII, § 8.
This is the second time in the past six months that the plaintiffs, Campaign for Fiscal Equity, have appeared before the Court of Appeals. The earlier case was Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. v. New York. (LII commentary is available.)