By MICHAEL HILL
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Three weeks after a state Senate committee rejected Gov. Kathy Hochul’s pick for chief judge of New York’s highest court, a lawmaker filed suit Thursday seeking to force a full floor vote on the nominee.
Republican state Sen. Anthony Palumbo sued the Senate and multiple Democrats in the majority, challenging the Judiciary Committee’s rejection of Hector LaSalle’s nomination to run New York’s judicial system as head of the state Court of Appeals.
Palumbo, the committee’s ranking Republican, claimed the state constitution doesn’t give the panel the last word.
“A vote of a mere committee of the Senate — here, the Judiciary Committee — does not satisfy the constitutional requirement of advice and consent. The Constitution does not delegate that authority to a committee,” according to the lawsuit filed in state court in Suffolk County.
Some of Hochul’s fellow Democrats opposed her choice of LaSalle, who would be the first Latino to lead the seven-member high court. Progressive activists, labor leaders and liberal senators claimed his record as an appellate judge is too conservative for such an influential position.
Supporters of LaSalle, who presides over one of four state appellate districts, accuse his critics of unfairly characterizing his views based on a handful of cases.
The committee rejected him after hours of questioning, and thus fulfilled its legal duty, Senate Democrats said.
“It is embarrassing but not surprising that the Senate Republicans have no basic understanding of law or the constitution,” Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Senate Democrats, wrote in an email.
Hochul also has said the full Senate should vote on LaSalle. She has not said whether she would pursue her own lawsuit, nominate another judge or choose another option. Her administration also declined to comment on the Republican’s lawsuit.
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