Lawsuit Details How Federal Law Takes Precedence over the Recent and Hastily Enacted Green Light Law, with the Green Light Law Wrongly Reversing Long-Standing and Well-Reasoned Federal Safeguards for the Security of Rensselaer County Residents   


Today, Rensselaer County Executive Steven F. McLaughlin and Rensselaer County Clerk Frank J. Merola announced the filing of a lawsuit to uphold Federal law for the safety and security of the residents of Rensselaer County. The lawsuit seeks for the Court to declare the Green Light Law unconstitutional in its entirety and to prohibit New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State Attorney General Letitia James, and New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Schroeder from taking any punitive action under the Law against Mr. Merola while serving as Clerk for the residents of Rensselaer County.

The lawsuit shows that, consistent with the concern publicly expressed by the Governor and despite the unsupported claim by the State Attorney General leading to the adoption of the Green Light Law, the Green Light Law undeniably conflicts with Federal law and unjustly places Mr. Merola in jeopardy if he follows the recent and hastily enacted Green Light Law rather than long-standing and well-reasoned Federal law.

With the filing of the challenge, Mr. Merola observed, “The Governor, Senators and Assembly Members have not listened to the people of this State but will now be required to listen to the courts.”

The lawsuit highlights the history behind requiring an applicant for a driver’s license to provide his or her social security number, stating that “in the nearly 20 years since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, many state and municipal government officials, including the current New York State Legislature and Executive Branch Defendants, appear to have forgotten  . . .  lessons learned from the tragedies of 9/11 and are intent on reverting to laws that the 9/11 Commission, after years of careful analysis, concluded were unsafe.”

In support of Mr. Merola leading the lawsuit, Rensselaer County Executive Steven F. McLaughlin noted, “This lawsuit is another sign of commitment that Rensselaer County will uphold the current and long-standing Federal immigration laws. Unlike the State Legislature, that, with the Green Light Law, placated a fringe minority interest of state-wide voters, Rensselaer County is committed to upholding the well-reasoned Federal immigration laws and protecting our residents. On my watch, I will not let reckless initiatives, such as the Green Light Law, harm our residents and I will fight with all my power to stop out of control measures like the Green Light Law.”

Among other cited Federal laws, the lawsuit emphasizes the following Federal laws as being frustrated by the Green Light Law adopted by disaffected State politicians: (1) it is a crime to knowingly or recklessly shield an undocumented immigrant from detection; and (2) no local government may in any way be restricted from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding immigration status.

The lawsuit was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.


Carl J. Kempf III, Esq.
Rensselaer County Attorney
Phone: (518) 265-7268