At least one local elected, a union and a community organization applauded a state committee’s rejection of Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s chief judge nominee in a narrow vote last week.
The judiciary committee voted, 10-9, not to go forward with Judge Hector LaSalle’s nomination as chief judge to the New York Court of Appeals. However, Hochul is considering whether she should sue the Senate to require the full body to vote on the nomination.
“While the (Judiciary) Committee plays a role, we believe the Constitution requires action by the full Senate,” Hochul said Jan. 18, according to HuffPost.
Hochul has indicated that she plans to petition a court to force a floor vote.
“Today (Jan. 18), New Yorkers had the opportunity to hear directly from Judge LaSalle, and what they heard was an affirmation of his commitment to fairness and justice above all else,” the governor said. “He also shared his personal background and views, including his deeply held support for organized labor and unequivocal belief in the right to an abortion.
“While this was a thorough hearing, it was not a fair one, because the outcome was predetermined. 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.”
State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who represents greater Riverdale, did not share the governor’s views.
“Thank you to my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee and to Chair Hoylman-Sigal for their diligent questioning of Judge LaSalle at today’s hearing as part of the Senate’s advice and consent process,” fellow Democrat Rivera said on the day of the decision. “I also appreciate the nominee for his willingness to answer questions on his record.
“I believe that we have fulfilled our chamber’s constitutional obligation and evaluated the nominee based on his professional merits and his record. It is unfortunate that this process has become so acrimonious and I implore the governor to work collaboratively with the Senate so that we may approve the nominee she selects next.”
At least one union and a community organization assailed Judge LaSalle for his record on labor unions and community-based organizations.
“Since August, The Court New York Deserves coalition has called for a new chief judge who will safeguard the rights of New Yorkers, defend our democracy, and protect the most vulnerable,” said Peter Martin, director of judicial accountability at the Center for Community Alternatives.
“Justice LaSalle’s record made clear to hundreds of labor unions, reproductive rights organizations, civil rights groups, community-based organizations, state senators, and everyday New Yorkers that he is the wrong choice for our state. We thank the Senate for rejecting this nomination.”
He called on Hochul to put forward a nominee for chief judge who will stand up for the rights of marginalized New Yorkers and lead “the court New York deserves.”
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America joined the chorus.
“Today’s hearing confirmed how over the course his career, Judge LaSalle eroded and eviscerated the rights of workers to organize,” David Caraballoso, vice president of the New York City & Vicinity District Council of Carpenters, said on Jan. 18.
“New York must remain a place where workers’ rights are protected, not where they go to die. That is why we stand firmly with those in the legislature who opposed Judge LaSalle’s confirmation.”