A referendum against a proposed Navy base on Staten Island was ordered off the November ballot yesterday by a judge who said it was not New York City's place to overrule the U.S. government.
State Supreme Court Justice Charles A. Kuffner Jr. ruled the referendum unconstitutional and enjoined the Board of Elections from placing it on the ballot.
"The city of New York alone should not be permitted to compel the Navy to change its decisions when they relate to military strategy, like the tail wagging the proverbial dog," Kuffner said.
David Lerner, a spokesman for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the petitioners, said the ruling would be appealed; the Supreme Court is New York state's trial-level court. A hearing was scheduled today at the Appellate Division.
The referendum involved whether to add to the City Charter a clause banning the city from leasing or selling land or spending money on a base that could house nuclear weapons.
A suit was filed by a group of residents of the borough of Staten Island who favor a proposal to base the battleship USS Iowa and six support ships there. The Navy, as is its policy, refuses to say whether the Iowa would carry nuclear weapons.
The U.S. House last week authorized $86.2 million for construction of the base.