New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s nominee to lead the state’s judiciary and top court, Justice Hector LaSalle, was rejected by a panel of state lawmakers on Wednesday following a five-hour hearing, throwing into chaos a confirmation process for the state’s chief judge. Only two Democrats on the 19-member committee voted to advance LaSalle’s nomination, an unprecedented development that could lead to a court challenge by the Hochul administration.
The Hochul administration has raised doubts over whether the Judiciary Committee in the state Senate can have the final word, or if the nomination could be advanced to the full floor. In a statement, Hochul called the hearing thorough, but potentially unfair. She argued the state Constitution requires a full vote by the Senate, but stopped short of announcing an intention to sue.
“While this was a thorough hearing, it was not a fair one, because the outcome was predetermined,” Hochul said. “Several senators stated how they were going to vote before the hearing even began – including those who were recently given seats on the newly expanded Judiciary Committee. While the Committee plays a role, we believe the Constitution requires action by the full Senate.”
The rejection is a victory for progressive advocates who had staunchly opposed LaSalle’s nomination, calling him too conservative to lead New York’s Court of Appeals.
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