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Connecticut News

McDonald As Conn. Supreme Court Chief Now Up To State Senate

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.

The fate of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s nominee to be the next chief justice of Connecticut is to be determined by a vote in the State Senate this week.  

Andrew McDonald, the 52-year-old Connecticut Supreme Court Associate Justice, is a longtime friend and political ally of Governor Malloy. Five years ago, McDonald, who is openly gay, won easy confirmation to the Court. But his elevation to head the court is facing stiff opposition mainly from Republicans.

Two weeks ago McDonald narrowly won approval in the State House of Representatives by a one-vote margin. That chamber has a nine-seat Democratic majority. The State Senate is evenly divided 18-18, between Democrats and Republicans. And one Democratic senator has recused herself from the vote. Democratic Senate President Martin Looney is warning that a party-line vote in the Senate would be unfortunate.

“In the past we have had a tradition of try to keep extreme partisanship in the judicial confirmation process at arms-length.”

Senate Republican President Len Fasano says his caucus has yet to determine whether they’ll vote as a block.

“I will be circling back with my caucus on Monday to see where we are. Before the vote I want to know where we are.”

Fasano says if the McDonald nomination fails, McDonald will still be an associate justice of the State Supreme Court. All that would change would be that Malloy would have to nominate someone else to be chief justice.