Hochul’s Conservative Pick for Judge Soon to be Scuttled by Senate

Governor Kathy Hochul‘s nominee for chief judge of the Court of Appeals is all but sunk. Hector LaSalle, the current presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, has been publicly rejected by over a dozen Democrat State Senators even before the hearings process has begun. Given this trajectory, whether these hearings even occur next month as scheduled is unsure.

Opposition to LaSalle began immediately after he was announced last week by Hochul. The judge’s positions on abortion and labor unions are at the forefront of this rejection and the contingent of “no” votes has only grown in the days since his nomination. Those in opposition are no mere back-benchers either. Deputy Leader Mike Gianaris said on Thursday, “I believe Justice LaSalle represents a continuation of a status quo that sullied the Court’s reputation and ruled inconsistently with NYers values. I will vote ‘no’ should the nomination be brought to the Senate floor.”

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who represents most of Yonkers, has yet to issue a public statement. However, our other Yonkers senator, Shelley Mayer, tweeted on Saturday that she will vote “no” if the LaSalle nomination reaches a floor vote.

Shelley Mayer statement on Judge LaSalle

But that floor vote may not come. To reach that stage, the process first runs through the Judiciary Committee – a committee presently led by NYC Senator Brad Hoylman. On Thursday, Hoylman stated that he opposed this nominee if Republican votes were required for him to be approved. In other words, if the Democratic caucus did not support LaSalle by majority.

Regardless of the nomination process’s final outcome, and what path is taken to arrive there, this ordeal has likely stained Hochul’s first full term of governor. Even former Republican Governor George Pataki commented that “this is a defining moment of her governorship.” The already lukewarm feelings most NY voters have about Hochul, as evidenced by her closer-than-expected victory over hard-right Republican Lee Zeldin, are likely only to be further cooled. To be politically out-of-step with one’s electorate isn’t ideal, but to also prove yourself ineffective within your own party is terminal.

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