Updated 02/18/2010 06:58 PM
Judge To Decide On Validity Of Monserrate's Removal
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A judge will now decide whether to uphold a State Senate vote that expelled Queens Senator Hiram Monserrate.
The Queens lawmaker was in court in Downtown Manhattan Thursday, trying to get his removal reversed and postpone the planned March 16 special election for his seat.
Both sides made their case before a judge, but a decision has been reserved until Friday.
He filed a federal lawsuit last week, claiming his civil rights were violated when his colleagues voted to expel him following a misdemeanor assault conviction for striking his girlfriend.
The former senator apologized for his actions, but maintains the vote was unconstitutional. He said the voters should decide whether he is fit to continue serving as their senator.
Dozens of Monserrate's supporters turned out by the Manhattan courthouse to protest the lawmaker's expulsion.
"There's no due process of the law allowed to him and that's unjustifiable in a democratic society," said one supporter.
"He is our senator and we want him back in the Senate where he belongs," said another.
"I think it's a conspiracy. They want him out because he's more powerful and he wants to speak up for his rights," said a third.
The New York Civil Liberties Union also officially offered Monserrate support in his lawsuit today.
The NYCLU issued a statement saying if the senator's expulsion is upheld, the democratic process is being undone. The group says it is a "dangerous" and "open-ended" precedent endangering New Yorker's voting rights.
Monserrate was an NYCLU board member from 1998 to 2001.