It’s a concept so important to society that it’s found in the U.S. Constitution not just once, but twice.
It’s due process — otherwise known as fair treatment under the law — first found in the Fifth Amendment by our Founding Fathers, and then again in the 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868.
Both times, it makes it clear that no one should be deprived of “life, liberty or property without due process of the law.”
As Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced serious allegations from those who worked for him and around him in the executive chamber, there have been plenty of cries for due process — especially from Cuomo’s attorneys.
And yes, everyone has a right to due process. Yet, the governor is wrong in his claims that demanding his resignation is somehow denying that right.
Due process is a judicial right, not a political one. And as much as any of us would like impeachment and removal to be a product of justice, in the end it’s nothing more than political. The jurors — both state senators and judges from the appeals court — are not necessarily a jury of the governor’s peers determining his guilt or innocence, but instead tasked with concluding whether the accusations against Cuomo would interfere in his duty to govern.
Actual courts — both civil and criminal — will look at the rest, if cases get that far. But at least leading up to Tuesday’s resignation, the real question was whether Andrew Cuomo can remain an effective leader while surrounded by very serious — and seemingly quite grounded — accusations.
The answer is simple: No. Cuomo had to resign. He had to show us through action his commitment of putting the interests of New York state ahead of his own.
And the only way he can do that is by moving out of the governor’s mansion and allowing Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to take over.
The governor, through his lawyers, claims he’s not getting a fair shake by state attorney general Letitia James. And maybe he isn’t — maybe he is. Except those aren’t disputes that will be decided anytime in the near future. At least for now, New York needs a governor. It needs a leader. And it simply can’t be one so tarnished and so distracted as Andrew Cuomo is now.
Since his attorneys — led by Rita Glavin and Paul Fishman — responded to James’ report, Cuomo has provided multiple updates on rising coronavirus infections in the state as well as completion of a $28.9 million overpass in Putnam Valley.
But it’s impossible to hear the governor speak about any of this, because when he opens his mouth, all any of us can hear are the allegations from women like Charlotte Bennett. Lindsey Boylan. Brittany Commisso. Virginia Limmiatis. Ana Liss. Alyssa McGrath. Anna Ruch.
And that’s not even close to being everyone.
The governor has a right to defend himself against these allegations, but he has no right to attack any of these women. He has no right to smear them in any way. He has no right to retaliate.
Cuomo’s behavior since the allegations alone are enough to demand his removal.
No one takes pride in making such a demand. And it’s not one that’s made lightly.
However, these are allegations that simply cannot be ignored. Andrew Cuomo needs time to hear them and address them — outside of the executive chamber. And New York needs to be governed.
Cuomo simply could not do both. And for the good of New York, his resignation was just.