The Connecticut House of Representatives has approved Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s nominee to be Connecticut’s next chief justice by a one-vote margin. State Supreme Court Associate Justice Andrew McDonald’s nomination now goes to the State Senate.
The 75-to-74 vote came after nearly four hours of debate. McDonald, who is openly gay, is an old friend and political ally of Governor Malloy’s. He faced stiff opposition mainly from Republicans. They argued that McDonald had been an unabashed liberal in the State Senate. And on the State Supreme Court, McDonald had voted to repeal capital punishment in Connecticut. House Judiciary Chair William Tong, a Democrat from Stamford, pushed back saying that McDonald should not be disqualified for his politics.
“We have never in this chamber voted against nominees on a purely partisan basis because they come from the other political party. It would be wrong to vote against Justice McDonald because he is by party affiliation a Democrat.”
While his supporters call the former state senator a fair-minded, brilliant jurist, his detractors questioned whether McDonald could be trusted to recuse himself from ruling on policies made during Malloy's administration. Representative Rosa Rebimbas, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, led the debate.
“When there are questions and substantial questions such as these, we have to make the tough decisions.”
A handful of Democrats and nearly every Republican opposed McDonald, one of the most politically charged judicial nominees in recent memory.
McDonald’s nomination is now in the hands of the State Senate, which is evenly divided 18-18 between Democrats and Republicans. And one Democrat, Senator Gayle Slossberg of Milford, has recused herself from the vote, which is expected on Monday.