After a tight vote in Connecticut House of Representatives, Justice Andrew McDonald is one step closer to being the first openly gay chief justice in the U.S.
The Connecticut House of Representatives voted 75 to 74 Monday to confirm the nomination of Associate Justice Andrew McDonald to be the next Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Having barely survived a bitterly divided House, McDonald now faces a tough vote in the state Senate, as Republicans attempt to block his nomination by retiring Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy.
McDonald’s nomination has been praised by groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the Connecticut Law Tribune, both of which have decried partisan efforts to stonewall the nomination.
“If measured fairly, McDonald stands more than qualified for the chief’s job. He should be resoundingly confirmed by the Legislature,” wrote Robert Mitchell, a Republican on the editorial board of the Connecticut Law Tribune. “Republicans who stand against him for pure political reasons stand shamefaced before the public. They embarrass the rest of us.”
But just one Republican, state Rep. Floren Livvy of Greenwich, voted in favor of McDonald Monday. She broke with her party to praise McDonald.
“He does his research. He gathers the facts. He analyzes data and he listens,” Livvy said Monday.
Livvy’s colleagues on the right were unconvinced, leading to the incredibly tight vote this afternoon.
An unprecedented partisan process
When Malloy announced McDonald’s nomination in January, he was widely expected to sail through confirmation. McDonald has served on the Connecticut Supreme Court since 2013, where he was easily confirmed on a bipartisan basis.
Activists around the country celebrated McDonald’s anticipated elevation on the court, which would make him the first openly gay chief justice in the United States. Then came the backlash.
First, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Herbst opposed the nomination, saying that McDonald would be a “partisan” in the role. Next, the Family Institute of Connecticut, a conservative group that opposes same-sex marriage, launched a campaign to block McDonald’s appointment on the same grounds.
Those efforts got a boost in late January, when Breitbart News ran a negative piece about McDonald that referred to his marriage to husband Charles Gray in scare quotes.
Despite right-wing efforts, McDonald was still expected to be confirmed without much opposition in the state General Assembly.
Then something unexpected happened. Taking a page from the Mitch McConnell playbook, Connecticut Republicans began to signal that they would attempt to block the nomination by outgoing Gov. Malloy.
State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, another Republican candidate for governor and a member of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said he would vote against McDonald’s nomination.
“Let it be decided by the new governor,” Srinivasan said. “It shouldn’t be made by an outgoing governor, a lame duck, whatever we choose to call Governor Malloy.”