Senate rejects McDonald, one Democrat joins all the Republicans in vote


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–The State Senate has rejected the nomination of Governor Malloy’s friend and former top aid to be Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court.

All 18 Republicans and one Democrat opposed Justice Andrew McDonald‘s nomination.  With the rejection of  McDonald, by statute, the Governor now has five days to select another nominee to be the state’s top judge.

The McDonald nomination has been in trouble since last month when the Judiciary committee on a tie vote sent an unfavorable recommendation to the full legislature.  In the Senate debate today, it was clear, the same arguments against him were the strongest for Republicans. That he should have recused himself from the ruling in 2015 that effectively ended the death penalty for those on death row.  “There are many of us in this chamber who had a problem with that majority decision,” said Sen. Len Fasano (R-North Haven) the Republican Senate President Pro tem during the debate.

But Democrats cited newspaper editorials and letters from legal scholars that said McDonald was on solid ground when he participated in that decision.  Sen. Martin Looney (D-New Haven), the Democratic Senate President Pro tem saying, “I think it’s clear that this particular, in that case, was a reasonable one that did not require recusal.”

The Senate’s only openly gay member, Democratic Senator Beth Bye of West Hartford, making the observation that McDonald appears to have been singled out because of his openly gay lifestyle saying,  “This nominee is being treated differently than any other, and very different from other justices and Supreme Court Justices in particular.”

But Republicans rigorously denied that was going on.  Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield) the co-chair of the Judiciary Committee said,  “This is not about Justice McDonald’s personal views on how he wants to run his personal life.”

In the end all of the Republicans voted against the McDonald nomination in that 19 to 16 vote but they were joined by one Democrat in that rejection.  She waited until the last possible minute and then Sen. Joan Hartley of Waterbury pushed the red button indicating she was also voting no.

Democrats are already painting this as Connecticut Republicans using the partisan politics of Washington.  Senate Democratic Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) telling News 8, “This connects the bridge from Connecticut Republicans to Washington Republicans.”

McDonald released the following statement after his nomination was not confirmed:

At my mother’s funeral I eulogized her, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever needed to do. Today, I need to do something that is no doubt less difficult, but it is still a task I undertake with great sorrow: I regretfully acknowledge that I have been unsuccessful in my effort to be confirmed as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

In my eulogy of my mother I shared a lesson she taught me that has always helped to guide me in my personal, professional and public lives. Whenever I faced a challenging situation, or was disappointed about something that happened to me, she would always remind me, “Andrew, life is not about you. It’s about those who need you.” To everyone I tried to help, and to everyone who tried to help me, I am sorry I failed in this endeavor. And to the LGBT community, particularly its youth who I know have been closely watching this process, I want you to understand that every minority group in history has faced setbacks. In the fullness of time, those setbacks usually end up becoming a source of strength, a reminder of why the community must continue to press for equality, and a framework that helps shape and develop the next steps of progress.

To Governor Malloy and to the legislators who voted for me – including one particularly courageous and brave one – I want to thank you for your support, encouragement and confidence. I will never forget any of it.

The enormous honor of leading the Connecticut judiciary as an independent and coequal branch of government will now fall to another. I am confident that the judges and staff of the Judicial Branch will show that nominee the same level of collegiality and assistance that has been shown to me.

In this turbulent personal moment, I don’t know what the future holds for me. I do know, however, that I will face it secure in the love and affection of my husband, Charles, and an amazing group of friends and family that I cherish, never more than I do today.

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