The Connecticut House of
Representatives on Monday narrowly endorsed the confirmation of
Andrew J. McDonald as chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Representatives voted 75-74 to send
McDonald's nomination to the Senate, where Republicans “seem poised
to block” McDonald's confirmation, according to The
If confirmed, McDonald would become the
nation's first openly gay chief justice.
McDonald, 51, already has made history
as the first openly gay member of the Connecticut Supreme Court as
well as the first to serve as a legislator.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy nominated
McDonald for the court's top post in January. McDonald served as
legal adviser to Malloy when he was mayor of Stamford and later in
the governor's office. Malloy, a Democrat, nominated McDonald to the
Connecticut Supreme Court in 2013.
Representative Rosa Rebimbas, a
Republican from Naugatuck, told colleagues that opposition to
McDonald “is not based on sexual orientation” or party
affiliation. She said that opposition was based on McDonald's
participation in a handful of cases, including a decision that ended
capital punishment in Connecticut.
McDonald's nomination became the
subject of a political campaign complete with media ads, a first in
Connecticut for a Supreme Court nomination. Opponents include a
website called thefamilycourtcircus.com, which referred to McDonald's
nomination under the headline “Jewdicial Sodomites.” Christian
conservative Mat Staver, who helms Liberty Counsel, also attacked
McDonald's nomination, saying he's incapable of giving Christians a
“fair shake” in court.
“The question is: are you going to
get a fair shake out of this individual who identifies as someone
based upon his sexual practices, who is identified and identifies
himself based upon certain behavior?” Staver
said. “Are you gonna get a fair shake? I don’t think so.”
In an editorial published last month,
Advocate pushed back on the argument that McDonald lacks the
“After five years, he is the
second-longest serving associate justice currently on the bench,”
editors wrote. “In addition to his election to local boards in
Stamford, he was a state senator, giving him valuable understanding
of municipal operations, as well as how the state machine works. It’s
also in his blood, as his mother, the late Anne McDonald, was a
well-respected longtime state representative. He is such a political
wonk that he listened to radio broadcasts of local government
proceedings as a boy.”
Senate President Pro Tem Martin M.
Looney, a Democrat from New Haven, has promised an up or down vote by
the end of the month.