Judge Hector LaSalle, a moderate Democrat, is reaching the end of the process to become the chief justice of the Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest court, which began with a nomination by Governor Kathy Hochul, and will end in a vote at the full state Senate. However, there is one final obstacle in his way, one which has been proving tough to overcome – getting past the Judiciary Committee.
Both his nomination and possible confirmation have been surrounded by opposition from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, who, many say, have mischaracterized the judge, presenting a skewed image of his positions, his decisions, and his values. The progressives are attempting to prevent the Judge’s confirmation from reaching the full senate and defeating his nomination in the Judiciary committee hearing, which can vote to prevent LaSalle from moving on to the Senate floor. The committee is comprised of 19 senators, with a Democratic Party majority.
Hochul and the judge’s backers insist that Judge LaSalle should be brought before the full Senate for a hearing, regardless of the outcome of the vote in Judiciary committee. According to the Constitution of the state of New York, chief judge of the Court of Appeals is appointed with the “consent of the senate.” This gives authority to the entire senate to accept or reject a nomination for the role, they aver, not an independent judiciary committee. In fact, they note, that this would be the first time the committee has thrown out a nomination before reaching the Senate floor. “[Opposing LaSalle in committee] would be unconstitutional and entirely politically motivated,” said one insider.
“The nomination and confirmation process is intended to be an independent approach based on merits and qualifications, which LaSalle has in abundance. The progressive left is making every effort to politicize this process, preventing Judge LaSalle from progressing and using any means necessary, turning it into a witch-hunt to further their own agenda.”
LaSalle, was reviewed by an independent judicial commission screening panel and is widely seen among Senators as the best candidate for the position.
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