The Senate in the state of New York has rejected the appointment of Gov. Kathy Hochul to preside over a New York court on Wednesday, which could lead to a showdown between the Democratic governor and the Democratic-Majority legislature.
The New York State Senate Committee on the Judiciary voted 10-9 against sending the nomination of Justice Hector LaSalle to a full vote on the floor of the Senate after a five-hour meeting where members told LaSalle about his background, judicial wisdom and his past decisions. especially in matters related to work and women’s right to abortion.
Ten Democrats voted for the nomination, two Democrats voted in favor and one Democrat plus all six Republicans voted but “not to agree.”
State courts across the country may play a bigger role in the coming years as US Supreme Court officials give state courts jurisdiction over civil rights cases decided by federal courts.
The future of LaSalle’s nomination now appears uncertain as Hochul weighs his options.
“I thought he did an amazing job,” the governor told reporters Thursday following the incident in Harlem. “We’re certainly looking at all our options.”
A few days before the hearing, Hochul officials questioned whether the jury would have a final say in the decision. Hochul issued a statement Wednesday saying the nominee needed a full vote in the Senate to be considered — raising the possibility that he would act on the charges that would set off protests in New York.
“Although the case was clear, it was not fair, because the consequences were obvious. Several senators announced how they would vote before the hearing began – including those assigned seats on the newly expanded Judiciary Committee. While the committee is working, we believe the Constitution requires the Senate to act,” Hochul said in a statement.
When asked at the Harlem event to elaborate on what he will do and if he will take action, Hochul was tight-lipped.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, explained his decision to vote against the resolution. Twitterimmediately after voting.
“Today, I voted not to advance the nomination of Justice LaSalle to the NY Court of Appeals. We need a Chief Justice who will stand up for the accused, workers, immigrants and women. But most importantly, we need someone to unify our Supreme Court. This nominee not that person,” he said on Twitter.
The rejection was seen as a victory for progressive lobbyists and left-leaning Democrats in the Senate who, for weeks, have opposed the nomination and stood by what they say is LaSalle’s conservative position.
Hochul made the nomination to LaSalle in December following the departure of former Chief Justice Janet DiFiore, who was appointed by former Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and resigned last summer amid a judicial investigation.
LaSalle, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is an appellate judge and prosecutor. As chief judge, Mr. LaSalle will oversee the entire judicial system in New York, which includes thousands of state and local judges, their staff and millions of cases. Mr. LaSalle also made history as the first Latino chief justice.
This article has been updated with additional information.