The Connecticut House of Representatives is expected to vote on Monday on Governor Dannel Malloy’s nominee to be the next chief justice of Connecticut.
Lawmakers anticipate that State Supreme Court Associate Justice Andrew McDonald, a longtime friend and ally of Democratic Governor Malloy, will win approval in the Connecticut House where Democrats hold a seven-seat majority.
What’s not certain is if McDonald would win confirmation in the Senate. That chamber is split 18-18 between Democrats and Republicans. And one Democrat, Senator Gayle Slossberg of Milford, who is not seeking re-election, is recusing herself from the vote.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano says Malloy could always nominate someone else if McDonald loses confirmation. “He has one vote today on the Supreme Court and after if he doesn’t become chief justice, he’ll still have one vote on the Supreme Court. This is a question of whether or not you’re electing him captain of a team.”
McDonald had a contentious hearing before the General Assembly’s judiciary committee last month. Republicans grilled him on his past decisions and liberal political agenda when he was a member of the Senate.
Senate Democratic President Martin Looney says it would be unfortunate if McDonald fails to be confirmed. He points out that five years ago McDonald won confirmation to the State Supreme Court by an overwhelming 33 to 3 vote in the Senate.
“In the past we have had a tradition of trying to keep extreme partisanship in the judicial confirmation process at arms length, and have not had a process that is tainted by extreme partisanship. And we would be moving in that direction if we had an extreme party-line vote on this nomination.”
Looney says Republicans would be blocking the confirmation of a highly qualified nominee who would be the first openly gay state chief justice in the country.
Looney expects the Senate to vote on McDonald’s confirmation a week from today.