New York Governor Kathy Hochul has been roundly criticized for a nomination that would have pushed the state Court of Appeals further to the right.
Now, that nominee has been rejected, and she’ll have to make a decision about whether to try to force her nomination through.
Hochul touted Judge Hector LaSalle as someone who would uphold “New York’s progressive values of fairness, equality, & freedom.”
A Senate panel, after a hearing that addressed his views on employee rights, abortion, and other issues, disagreed.
LaSalle himself claimed that the cases he was questioned about were cherry-picked to “distort his record” and prevent his confirmation to the court.
Critics argue that the cases could represent future decisions that would make New Yorkers less free.
For example, one case that has been highlighted is that of anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers, which can mislead clients and manipulate them into surrendering bodily autonomy and free choice.
A letter from dozens of New York law professors described the case and LaSalle’s input:
“In 2010, the New York City Council held hearings into CPCs and determined that one of them, “Expectant Mother Care,” was practicing medicine without a license. On the basis of that finding, the New York Attorney General served it with a subpoena to learn more about its operations,” the law professors’ letter stated.
LaSalle, they say, intervened, joining an opinion that prevented the Attorney General from obtaining advertising materials and brochures the center used to promote its services.
In a clip below, LaSalle dismisses many of his critics as “activists who would have preferred someone else.”
At a state Senate hearing, Hector LaSalle says progressive activists are highlighting certain labor-related cases he decided in order to distort his record and bring down his nomination to New York's top court:
"There are activists who would have preferred someone else." pic.twitter.com/ICBJduNgcD
— The Recount (@therecount) January 18, 2023
He didn’t convince the panel.
In the end, the panel voted 10-2 against his confirmation, preventing his nomination from being passed to the full State Senate for a final vote, Reuters reported, also noting that Hochul could still sue to force a confirmation vote:
“The Judiciary Committee has only voted down a governor’s candidate for a Court of Appeals seat one other time, but in that case the Senate still confirmed the nominee.”
It’s not the first time Hochul has been criticized for making a regressive decision, either — last year she was attacked over her signing a bill to roll back police reforms that had been put into place after the murder of George Floyd.
Hochul knew that the Senate already was not happy about her choice, and made it clear in a tweet earlier in the day, declaring him a “highly qualified, highly experienced judge” and saying he “deserves a fair process.”
Justice Hector LaSalle is a highly qualified, highly experienced judge who is committed to upholding New York’s progressive values of fairness, equality, & freedom.
He deserves a fair process as the State Senate considers his nomination for Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals.
— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) January 18, 2023
Of course, every nominee deserves a fair process — saying so explicitly tends to be an insinuation that the speaker doesn’t expect the nominee to receive such.
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.