New York Gov. Kathy Hochul attends a conference

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul attends a conference at Lincoln Square Synagogue on December 12, 2022 in New York City.

(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

'Huge Win': NY Senate Panel Rejects Hochul's Right-Wing Judicial Nominee

State Sen. Kristen Gonzalez credited "the work of activists and organizers on the ground who sounded the alarm early on LaSalle."

Progressive lawmakers and rights advocates in New York celebrated Wednesday after the state Senate Judiciary Committee voted against Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul's nominee to serve as the state's top judge, Justice Hector LaSalle—whose rulings regarding abortion rights, labor, and criminal justice made his nomination "an absolute disaster," according to one critic.

The panel voted 10-9 against allowing LaSalle's nomination for chief judge of the state Court of Appeals to proceed to the state Senate floor.

The vote followed a lengthy hearing at which some of the Democrats questioned the judge about his past rulings including a 2015 decision in favor of Cablevision, which wanted to be able to sue union leaders for criticizing the company's response to Hurricane Sandy, and one which shielded an anti-choice "crisis pregnancy center" from a state investigation into whether it was practicing medicine without a license.

"Based on your record, I think that it's not unfair for people to project what some of your decisions might be," state Sen. John Liu (D-16), told LaSalle.

According to The New York Times, Hochul "has not ruled out taking legal action to force a vote of Justice LaSalle on the full Senate floor."

"Now all eyes turn to Hochul," Alex Sammon of Slate tweeted.

Hochul was joined by U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) in pushing for LaSalle's confirmation, while progressives including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) rallied their supporters against the judge.

Progressive state lawmakers swiftly came out against the nomination when it was announced earlier this month, with state Sens. Jabari Brisport (D-25) and Kristen Gonzalez (D-59) making clear that they would not support LaSalle.

The Democratic supermajority in the state Senate "doesn't need to tolerate Gov. Hochul acting like a Republican," said Brisport Wednesday.

Gonzalez called the committee's vote "a victory for all New Yorkers who want a court that protects workers, immigrants, women, and civil liberties."

The New York Working Families Party called on Hochul to nominate a judge "who has a strong record of defending the rights and freedoms of everyday New Yorkers," particularly in light of the far-right supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Center for Community Alternatives called on Hochul to nominate one of the judges the group put forward last month as being "outstanding candidates" with experience in civil rights and government: Corey Stoughton of the Legal Aid Society, Yale law professor Abbe Gluck, and Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, the state's deputy chief administrative judge for justice alternatives.

"We thank the Senate for rejecting this nomination," said the group, "and we call on Gov. Hochul, as we have for months, to put forward a nominee for chief judge who will stand up for the rights of marginalized New Yorkers and lead the court New York deserves."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.