As in so many instances in Albany, basic, fundamental democratic processes are frustrated by political agendas and needless dysfunction. This unfortunate reality is again playing out as Judge Hector LaSalle, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s choice to lead the Court of Appeals, was summarily dismissed as a candidate, despite enormous support from lawmakers and legal experts across the board, simply because he doesn’t check enough boxes for radicals in New York’s Democrat Party.
[Recently], Judge LaSalle was forced to endure an hours-long Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with an outcome decided before he even sat down to answer a single question. Weeks before the hearing, several senators had already publicly stated they would not support Judge LaSalle before speaking with him, interviewing him, or hosting a nomination hearing. LaSalle deserved an objective and fair process but was instead forced to participate in a political sideshow.
After Judge LaSalle’s nomination was announced, Senate Democrats arbitrarily changed the composition of the Judiciary Committee. What had been a 15-member committee was expanded to 19 members, allowing for more LaSalle opponents to be added. Essentially, the deck was stacked against him before he had a chance to discuss his career, accomplishments, and judicial decisions. The chief judge of the Court of Appeals is an important position at the top of the judicial branch of our state government. The nominee is not a political pawn, nor should the vote to confirm such a nominee be used to advance a particular agenda. The nominee should be judged on his or her merits — nothing else.
The future of Judge LaSalle’s nomination is now uncertain. Gov. Hochul has stated that she is exploring options, which includes the possibility of taking legal action against the Senate majority. Without question, what happens next will be a significant moment for state government and the direction in which New York is headed.
The decision to obstruct Judge LaSalle’s nomination is a textbook example of the one-party dysfunction that has hindered New York. Judge LaSalle has earned a reputation as a fair, effective jurist. His distinguished career earned him the nomination and the hearing. It is a shame a small faction in the Senate majority has ignored his qualifications while it continues to pull New York further from rational, reasonable policy.
The people of New York deserve a government that works, and what we are seeing here is evidence some lawmakers are more concerned with making a statement than making New York a better, safer place. Mainline New York Democrats must look in the mirror and ask themselves what is more important, picking the best candidate for the job or letting their party continue to be highjacked by woke extremists.
William (Will) A. Barclay, 53, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses all of Oswego County, as well as parts of Jefferson and Cayuga counties.