New York Fights Back on Guns and Abortion After Supreme Court Rulings

Enshrining the right to abortion in the state’s constitution will be more onerous. Amending the State Constitution is a yearslong process, which starts with passage by the Legislature. Then, after a general election, another session of the Legislature must pass the amendment before it is presented to voters in a ballot referendum.

But lawmakers took a first step on Friday when the Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment, which along with guaranteeing rights to abortion and access to contraception, prohibited the government from discriminating against anyone based on a list of qualifications including race, ethnicity, national origin, disability or sex — specifically noting sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and pregnancy on the list of protected conditions. (An Assembly vote was expected to follow.)

Some of the protected classes in the language of the measure appeared to anticipate future rulings from the court, which also indicated last week that it might overturn cases that established the right to same-sex marriage, same-sex consensual relations and contraception.

“We’re playing legislative Whac-a-Mole with the Supreme Court,” said Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat. “Any time they come up with a bad idea we’ll counter it with legislation at the state level.”

“Civil liberties are hanging in the balance,” he added.

New York Republicans, who have little sway in either legislative chamber, split over the Equal Rights Amendment, with seven voting in favor and 13 against. But they were united in opposition against the concealed carry bill, saying Democrats had tipped the balance much too heavily in favor of restrictions.

“Instead of addressing the root of the problem and holding violent criminals accountable, Albany politicians are preventing law-abiding New Yorkers, who have undergone permit classes, background checks and a licensing process from exercising their constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” said Robert Ortt, the Republican leader in the Senate, who is from Western New York.

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