HARTFORD, CT—Democratic Senate leaders Wednesday asked the 18 Republicans and one Democrat who voted against elevating Justice Andrew McDonald to chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court to reconsider their votes.
“Today, I am asking that one of the 19 Senators who voted down Justice McDonald’s confirmation as Chief Justice to have the courage to make a motion to reconsider,” Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said, at a press conference at the state capitol.
Democrats said that the vote on McDonald is not final — yet. They claim that after a vote has been taken, any Senator on the prevailing side of the vote may move for reconsideration on the day of the vote or on the next succeeding session day.
The Democrats said that, according to Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure Section 468, when a vote is reconsidered, the vote is “canceled completely as though it had never been taken.”
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said that’s not going to happen.
“The State Senate already voted on this issue,” Fasano said. “Both Republicans and Democrats voted against the governor’s nominee. The vote is done. I look forward to learning who Governor Malloy will nominate next.”
Senate Democrats wanted to continue to debate the issue, which their party has been using to fundraise.
“What was evident on the floor yesterday was that the Republicans failed to make a case as to why Justice McDonald is not qualified to lead the court,” Looney said. “Their actions to block Justice McDonald’s confirmation have been panned by editorial boards and the legal community.”
The Senate voted 19-16 against McDonald’s elevation to chief justice.
Sen. Joan Hartley, a Democrat from Waterbury, joined Republicans in voting against his nomination. Hartley said she thinks McDonald would have been approved Tuesday if he had recused himself in 2015 from sitting on the case that overturned the death penalty for the 11 men left on death row after the legislature prospectively repealed it with the intention of leaving the 11 men on death row.
McDonald, who would have become the first openly gay chief justice of a supreme court if he was approved, will remain a Supreme Court justice. He has three more years left on his eight-year appointment.
Some believe the lawmakers who voted against McDonald were doing so partly due to bias.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who nominated McDonald, was unable to say what he would do next. He has five business days to make another nomination.
“This is not a request that I make lightly,” Looney said. “Indeed this is an extraordinary and historic action; however, in order to preserve the independence of Connecticut’s judicial system and ensure that petty partisan politics does not infect the judiciary, the Senate should reconsider Justice McDonald’s confirmation.”
Senate Major Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said: “This is the final opportunity for the Republicans to prevent the damage they are about to inflict on the judiciary.
“Justice McDonald’s credentials are unimpeachable, which is why his nomination is supported by the deans of Yale, UConn, and Quinnipiac law schools, the Connecticut Bar Association, and dozens of highly respected lawyers
— including Democrats and Republicans,” Duff said. “A vote to reconsider is the only course to honor Connecticut’s nonpartisan judicial traditions.”