The fight for Justice LaSalle has become the most contentious battle in recent memory for a candidate for Chief Justice, who in addition to serving on the Court of Appeals is also responsible for overseeing the state’s complex court system. , which has thousands of judges and staff.
The governor in December chose Justice LaSalle, who would become the first Latino chief justice, from a group of seven nominees assembled by a special commission after the departure of former chief justice Janet DiFiore last year.
But Justice LaSalle, who is currently chairman of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court’s Second Judicial Department, has faced fierce opposition from progressive Democrats, as well as from a group of unions, reproductive rights groups and community organizations. .
Democrats who opposed him pointed to his past as a prosecutor and a number of past cases he had endorsed that they said demonstrated he was hostile to unions and abortion rights. Senate Democrats, still reeling from an appeals court ruling last year that overturned redistricting maps they had drawn, also said they intended to raise some one that would break the current conservative slant of the court.
Justice LaSalle and his supporters have argued that his critics twisted his court record to derail his nomination, while some allies of Ms. Hochul, a moderate Democrat, pinned the opposition on the party’s left wing.
Judge LaSalle defended his case during a five-hour legislative hearing last month in which he declared his support for reproductive and labor rights, arguing that the cases his critics had highlighted were based on questions of procedure.
The 19-member Judiciary Committee, which had recently expanded to include more Democrats, a move the governor denounced at the time, narrowly voted against the judge, 10 to 9. The Senate is made up of 21 Republicans and 42 Democrats, a majority who expressed their opposition to Judge LaSalle, especially after he was rejected by the Judiciary Committee.