Erie County Clerk loses appeal against Green Light Law

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns has lost his fight against the Green Light Law.

In a lawsuit naming Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James and DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder as defendants, Kearns argued that the law, which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license, compels him to violate his oath of office.

Previously, the County Clerk said “I put my hand on our family Bible and took an oath of office that I would uphold the constitutions of the state and federal governments. Because New York State doesn’t like the President’s immigration policies, they have made County Clerks across the state a cog in a legislative scheme to ensure it’s impossible for them to uphold their oath of office. I’m happy to stand up for the solemn promise that every elected official makes.”

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reviewed Kearns’ arguments about the law, but found them “to be without merit.”

“Because compliance with the state law would not expose Kearns to a credible threat of prosecution under federal law, the judgement of the District Court is affirmed,” the document detailing the decision said.

MORE | Read the decision here.

New York Attorney General Letitia James released the following statement after the court’s decision:

The Green Light law is legal and enforceable, and today’s decision marks the third federal court to dismiss challenges brought seeking to enjoin the law. This law provides protections to all New Yorkers by making our roads safer, growing our economy, and allowing immigrants to come out of the shadows to sign up as legal drivers in our state. As the state’s attorney and chief law enforcement officer, I am proud to have vigorously defended this law and will continue to do so against all who oppose it.

New York Attorney General Letitia James

Evan Anstey is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here.

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