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Hochul bulldozed by leftists who want an activist on NY’s top court

In Wednesday’s historic 10-9 rejection of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s nominee for chief judge, Hector LaSalle, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s radicals left no doubt about their true goal: They want a judge who’ll ignore the law and base rulings on their agenda — without exception. They all but said so out loud.

A lifelong Democrat, LaSalle laid out his personal political views, making clear he’s a solid pro-labor, pro-choice, pro-diversity liberal: He grew up in a union household, he noted, and “walked the picket line” with his grandma. He backs a woman’s right to make her own “reproductive” decisions and won’t “defend” crisis pregnancy centers that “mislead” clients.

As a prosecutor, he strived to give defendants a “second chance” whenever appropriate. He’d like the high court to be more diverse.

Indeed, if he were seeking a legislative seat, conservatives would rush to oppose him.

His defenders at the hearing also cited his overwhelmingly compelling qualifications to run the state’s courts, not to mention his humble roots and Latino background. Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-Suffolk) called the nominee “the embodiment of the American dream.”

Yet none of that was good enough for hard-left critics. They blasted him for a few cherry-picked cases (out of 5,700) where LaSalle didn’t rule as they liked, claiming they “raised concerns.” Committee Chairman Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan) actually admitted that he and others on the committee want the Court of Appeals “to go in a different [political] direction” and bashed LaSalle for once running on the Conservative line (though he was on the Democratic, left-wing Working Families and Independent lines in that same race).

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals nominee, Hector D. LaSalle,
Hochul’s Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals nominee, Hector D. LaSalle, gives testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 18, 2023.
AP/ Hans Pennink

Queens Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D) said lawmakers fret that the state’s top court has “shifted to the right” and demanded to know what LaSalle would do to “remedy that shift.” Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) suggested judges take a “broader reading” of statutes.

Don’t they know the difference between judges and legislators? The former aren’t supposed to be political; they certainly mustn’t go beyond the language of statutes to apply their own “broader views,” as Ramos wants. If they did, what would be the point of democratically elected lawmakers?

Indeed, LaSalle repeatedly insisted he’d love to see new (progressive) laws passed but as a judge he’s “constrained by precedent” and follows “clear statute.”

“Judges’ decision-making is based on the facts and the law, and how you feel personally about a party or issue . . . is not germane,” he said — which was decidedly not what the leftists wanted to hear.

No, they want their way, regardless of law, rules or precedent. They packed the committee to ensure a majority opposed LaSalle and now claim he doesn’t deserve a full vote on the Senate floor. They turned the process into an outrageous partisan circus.

Hochul must now fight to get him a full Senate vote — all the way to the US Supreme Court, if need be.

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