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Politics Enters The Courtroom With Malloy’s Choice For Chief Justice

Jessica Hill
Then-legal counsel Andrew McDonald, center, applauds between Chief of Staff Timothy Bannon, left, and Budget Director Benjamin Barnes as Gov. Dannel Malloy presents his first two-year budget during a joint session of the General Assembly in Hartford.

After a hearing on Monday, the Connecticut Legislature’s Judiciary Committee cast a tie vote early Tuesday for Justice Andrew McDonald to be the next chief justice of the State Supreme Court.

That means the nomination will now get sent to the full legislature with an unfavorable nomination.

Conservative groups want lawmakers to reject McDonald. They say he puts his liberal political beliefs ahead of the law. They also say he lacks the necessary experience.

McDonald was nominated by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy. He has been an associate justice of the State's highest court since Malloy appointed him to that position in 2013. He did not previously serve as a superior or appellate court judge.

His supporters say he is a highly qualified jurist with a stellar resume during a career in all three branches of state government and that his opponents are distorting facts about him.

McDonald's nomination has even become an issue on the 2018 campaign trail. Two Republicans running for governor say whoever is elected in November should have the right to pick the next chief judge, not Malloy. That follows the lead of Republicans in the U.S. Congress, who blocked President Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court in his final year in office in 2016.

If confirmed by the full legislature, McDonald would succeed retired former Chief Justice Chase Rogers. He would be the first openly gay State Chief Justice in the country.

Dan is a former News Director at WSHU
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