Last night, the State Senate voted 53-8 to expel Senator Hiram Monserrate. The Queens Democrat's status was in question after being convicted of misdemeanor assault of his girlfriend, whom he accused of slashing in the face with a broken glass. However, he will appeal to the decision, questioning the legality of the move, "This is a much bigger issue than Hiram Monserrate. It's about due process and the law. And ultimately, the power of the voters to decide."

One of Monserrate's lawyers, Norman Siegel, tells the Times a temporary restraining order to have him reinstated would be filed today. Siegel also said, "This case raises substantial questions concerning what a constitutional democracy is all about... The New York State Senate does not have the constitutional and legal authority to expel Senator Monserrate, and even if they did, their actions have not been consistent with due process of law." Last month, a Senate panel had recommended that Monserrate be fired or expelled.

The Senate's Democratic conference convened for five hours; the Times Union says, "Sen. Ruben Diaz, one of Monserrate's staunchest supporters, spoke passionately on the floor, charging that the Senate's action was payback for Monserrate's role in the June [2009] Senate coup." Diaz voted against the expulsion, as did Democrats Pedro Espada, Martin Dilan, Carl Kruger, John Sampson (the Senate conference leader), Eric Adams, Kevin Parker and, yes, Monserrate himself. Senator Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan), who voted for the expulsion, told the Times, "Nobody was happy about this. But most senators on both sides of the aisle felt that we had to do something. The days of sweeping things under the rug are over."

The Times Union has text of Monserrate's speech to his colleagues, but notes that it doesn't include this spoken line: "I think it’s the height of arrogance for someone who has never pulled a lever in my community — never saw the narcotics sales on Roosevelt Avenue, never saw the lack of services that my community receives — to think that today they have more power than the constituent voters that sent me here to represent them.”

Governor Paterson announced a special election for the Monserrate's district (District 13) on March 16, "This Special Election will ensure that all New Yorkers are represented in the New York State Senate. I urge all eligible voters to go to the polls on March 16 to select their next State Senator." Notably, if Monserrate is expelled, the Democrats will have 31 seats while the Republicans will have 30—a 32-vote majority is needed to pass anything.