The nomination of a Chief Judge to the State of New York’s Court of Appeals is a generational opportunity for the New York State Senate to confirm a justice who will advance equity and justice for all. As the most diverse state in our nation, New York must ensure nominees for Chief Judge for the Court of Appeals reflect the experience, leadership, and decision-making that New York deserves.
On Thursday, Governor Hochul made one of the most consequential nominations of her tenure thus far, leaving the Senate with a decision to either confirm her choice or vote down the nominee. As Senators representing Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood, parts of the Upper West Side and the Bronx, we fought hard to get the first woman elected to lead New York State as our Governor. We worked to get the vote out in largely working-class communities that struggle to believe their elected officials ever listen to them. We stood alongside our labor partners, who proudly wore their union gear on street corners and poll sites while handing out literature. However, today we are asking our State Senate colleagues to vote against Governor Hochul’s nominee, Justice Hector LaSalle.
Candidates should have track records that show a commitment to representing all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable among us. We must bring forward candidates that share progressive values and will protect worker rights, reproductive rights, and the rights of all. Justice Hector LaSalle’s track record runs counter to these ideals. He has passed down decisions that are anti-union, anti-abortion, and that show a disregard for due process and individuals in need. We don’t need his voice leading and dominating the views and decisions in our state’s highest court- not in this union town and not when there is so much at stake.
With great disappointment and fear, the nation has watched the U.S. Supreme Court strip communities of fundamental rights. It is terrifying to see the nation’s highest court embrace bigoted and extremist values that invalidate common-sense state laws and undermine democratic institutions, and it seems poised to continue to do so in the upcoming year. Undoubtedly, in New York, the Court of Appeals acts as a shield, defending against federal attacks, protecting residents, and upholding the rule of law.
After witnessing the harmful impact of conservative leadership in New York State, Governor Kathy Hochul’s nomination for Chief Judge is disheartening. It fails to inspire confidence that New York will be protected from the dangerous leanings of the current U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, this nomination goes against the package of landmark bills championed by the New York State Legislature this past June protecting the reproductive rights that Governor Hochul signed into law.
For weeks, several labor unions, reproductive rights organizations, civil rights groups, advocates, constituents, and our colleagues- many of whom worked hard to elect Governor Hochul- have expressed legitimate concerns about Justice Hector LaSalle. More than ever, New York State’s judicial system needs voices that repudiate attacks on our democracy, gender identity, and reproductive and worker rights. We hope Governor Hochul listens and reverses course immediately. There is much work that we must do to continue leading our state forward together. In the meantime, as the Chairs for the Committee on Civil Service and Pensions and the Committee on Women’s Issues, we call on our Senate colleagues to reject Justice LaSalle’s nomination and demand a Chief Judge nominee who will protect the rights of all New Yorkers and make us all proud.