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New York County Lawyers Association Issues Statement
that New York Constitution Requires Senate Floor Vote on Nominee LaSalle Despite Committee Vote to Disapprove
The New York Constitution requires that the state Senate — not a committee of the Senate — accept or reject a Court of Appeals nominee within 30 days. As we have previously observed, a group of Senators, a minority of the Senate and even a minority of Senate Democrats, unfairly attacked Governor Hochul’s nominee, Justice Hector LaSalle, by distorting his record. Now — afraid to put his nomination before the full Senate — those same Senators rejected his nomination, by a vote of 10-9, in the Judiciary Committee. Manipulating the longstanding composition of the Committee, Senate leaders expanded the Committee, adding sufficient opponents of Justice LaSalle’s nomination to ensure a negative Committee vote.
Let us not mince words about what is happening. A minority of the Senate is dead set on rejecting a nominee that the bipartisan Judicial Nominations Commission and every bar association that weighed in found to be qualified for the job. In disregard of Justice LaSalle’s apparent qualifications, this minority group in the Senate changed the rules, rigging the process to deny the full Senate the opportunity to vote on the Governor’s choice. This undermines democracy and New York’s law and Constitution. And it threatens judicial independence, because nominees must now kowtow to a small, extreme contingent to gain confirmation.
This result should not stand. To give effect to the merit selection process enshrined in New York’s law and constitution, the full Senate must vote on LaSalle’s nomination.