Michael Cardozo, NYC's Corporation Counsel, whose cient is NYC, has sued the City Council of NYC on behalf of the Mayor, seeking a declaratory judgment that a law the Council passed over the Mayor's veto is invalid. The law is aimed at containing the Mayor's stop and frisk policy. For my purpose here, it's unimportant whether the legal theory in the complaint if right or wrong.
Can the City's lawyers do this? They obviously chose not to sue the City itself, which would be directly adverse to their own client. So they named the City Council. But the Council does not enforce the law and the law is the City's law, not the Council's law. It would be like the Attorney General suing Congress to have a law decalred unconstitutional. Not even a private party seeking such a declaration could do so by suing Congress.
Of course, we know that lawyers for government bodies sometimes refuse to enforce or defend a law they deem unconstitutional. Holder refused to defend DOMA. Fine. But here the City's lawyers are acting affirmatively to prevent the enforcement of a duly passed law. Do they escape ethical criticism because they chose to name the City Council as the defendant?