MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) -- A judge has issued a restraining order blocking Richard Ravitch from serving as New York Gov. David Paterson's lieutenant governor.
State Supreme Court Justice William LaMarca in Nassau County issued his ruling late Tuesday afternoon.
"The court is convinced that this is the rare case in which a preliminary injunction enjoining an act of the governor of the state is appropriate,'' LaMarca wrote. He ordered another court hearing on the issue on Aug. 25. The judge also denied a request to move the case to the state capital in Albany.
"Were the governor to die, resign, or be removed from office, Mr. Ravitch, if allowed to remain in office, is next in the line of succession,'' LaMarca wrote. "For an illegally appointed lieutenant-governor to act as governor of the state would clearly constitute irreparable harm.''
Calls from The Associated Press to Gov. Paterson's office, Sen. Pedro Espada, Sen. Malcolm Smith and Democratic Conference Leader Sen. John Sampson were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.
The governor's attorney argued that a provision of the state Public Officers Law allows him to fill some vacant posts until the next election. Senate attorneys said the state constitution does not allow for the appointment of a lieutenant governor when a vacancy occurs.
LaMarca sided with the Senate. "Thus, the court must hold that the office of lieutenant-governor is not an 'elective office,''' the judge said.
Paterson appointed Ravitch, a former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, earlier this month as a way of breaking a monthlong leadership deadlock in the state Senate.
Paterson's appointment provided a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, which had been deadlocked at 31-31 since shortly after a June 8 overthrow of Democratic leadership. In cases of ties in the Senate, a lieutenant governor casts the deciding vote.
Shortly after Paterson named Ravitch, Espada, who sided with Republicans to stage the monthlong coup, rejoined the Democratic conference, restoring a 32-30 Democratic majority.
Paterson was elected lieutenant governor in 2006, but ascended to the governor's office in March 2008 after Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in a sex scandal.
Paterson made no attempt at appointing a successor until the Senate controversy.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo declined to represent the governor in the legal dispute, saying he also believed the appointment was unconstitutional.