In December, Governor Kathy Hochul nominated Hector D. LaSalle, Presiding Justice of New York Supreme Court’s Second Department, as the next Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals.
Her decision of a moderate to the state’s highest court was refreshing after her onslaught of dense policy-making. However, members of her own party disagreed with her dive into political moderation.
The Brentwood native of Puerto Rican descent was quickly eyed by progressives in the New York Senate for his allegedly ‘conservative’ record. Hochul attempted to enlighten Democrats to side with LaSalle by alluding to what Martin Luther King Jr. may have wanted.
Despite being grilled for over four hours on Wednesday during his Judiciary Committee hearing, LaSalle answered each question flawlessly.
In the weeks preceding his hearing, progressives who wanted the state court to support their political agenda misrepresented his record. When their attempts to provoke LaSalle or pressure Hochul to withdraw the nomination failed, they filled the Judiciary Committee with three additional votes in their favor, including two senators who had already voiced their opposition. By a vote of 10-9, the nomination was rejected; if it hadn’t been for this last-minute deck-stacking, LaSalle would have been approved.
Why would progressives not want this historical moment for a Latino? What about diversity, equity and inclusion? Have we happened upon a political aim the progressives value more?
However, his record shows him to be a moderate, impartial and fair judge. As he has said in the past, LaSalle relies on “the facts, the record and the law” while making decisions. To defend himself, he criticized the Senate progressives and stated they should write and pass legislation reflecting their core progressive values.
Progressives will only be satiated by an activist judge regardless of time served on the bench and past rulings. LaSalle gives everyone an honest shake. Unfortunately, he might not be able to get one in New York.
We commend Hochul for initially putting forward LaSalle’s nomination and early reporting, showing that she will push the issue further.