(CN) – New York Gov. David Paterson overstepped his authority when he appointed Richard Ravitch to succeed him as lieutenant governor, a New York appeals court ruled.
Paterson was the lieutenant governor until March 2008, when he ascended to the top spot after Eliot Spitzer resigned amid allegations that he solicited the services of a prostitute.
The state’s second-highest post remained vacant until July 2009. Paterson appointed Ravitch, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, to the office. Ravitch would be in the position to break tie votes in the Senate, which has 31 Democrats and 31 Republicans.
One day later, New York Senators Dean Skelos and Pedro Espada Jr. challenged the appointment, stating that Paterson lacked the authority to make it.
The trial court blocked Ravitch from taking office, and the justices of the Second Judicial Department Appellate Division in Brooklyn affirmed the decision.
“The governor’s purported appointment of Mr. Ravitch was unlawful because no provision of the Constitution or of any statute provides for the filling of a vacancy in the office of lieutenant-governor other than by election,” the court wrote, “and only the temporary president of the Senate is authorized to perform the duties of that office during the period of the vacancy.”