2nd Circuit Takes Judicial Notice of Staten Island’s “Geographical Isolation”

December 26th, 2014

The only way to drive from Staten Island to New York City (other than the roundabout way through Jersey) is the Verrazano Bridge, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Contrary to urban legends that the toll would be eliminated after the bridge was paid off (not true), crossing the span is quite expensive. The price is now a staggering $16, though you only pay to leave Brooklyn and enter Staten Island, not the other way around. Fortunately for residents of Richmond County, there is a discount for Staten Islanders on the Bridge. It is only $5.75!

Alas, two plaintiffs found this policy discriminatory, and in violation of the Right to Travel, protected by the Article IV Privileges or Immunities Clause, as well as the dormant commerce clause. In a per curiam opinion, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the case. In doing so, the court took judicial notice of the “geographical isolation” of Staten Island.

Moreover, the residents who qualified for the discounted tolls in Selevan [Grand Island, NY] and those who qualify in the instant case face comparable levels of geographical isolation.

There you have it. Grand Island, New York is comparably isolated as Staten Island. Grand Island, with a population of 20,000, and connected by two bridges to Buffalo is comparable to Staten Island, population of nearly 500,000, with the Verrazano Bridge to Brooklyn, the Outerbridge Crossing, Goethals Bridge, and Bayonne Bridge to New Jersey, not to mention the Staten Island Ferry. Harumph.

No wonder Staten Island doesn’t get any respect in the federal judiciary.