The leadership of the New York Civil Liberties Union today expressed dismay over the New York State Senate’s vote to expel Senator Hiram Monserrate. The following can be attributed to NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman:

“Hiram Monserrate has, without question, engaged in reprehensible behavior, and the New York State Senate is right to speak out against and punish him for his actions.

But the Senate should not overrule the people’s prerogative by removing Monserrate from office. The people’s right to elect their representatives is a touchstone for all other rights in a constitutional democracy. Removing an elected representative without clear standards and when censure is available creates a dangerous and open-ended precedent to undo the will of the people.

All New Yorkers have the right to determine their elected representative. That decision should not be overturned in the absence of clear standards and where other remedies are available.“

While Monserrate was an NYCLU Board Member from 1998 to 2001, that in no way influenced the NYCLU’s position.