Gov. Malloy sticking with McDonald, despite lack of GOP support; Sen. Fasano responds

HARTFORD — Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he's not withdrawing his nominee for chief justice of Connecticut's highest court, despite being informed there will be no Republican support for Associate Justice Andrew McDonald in the state Senate.

The governor said Monday he was informed that no GOP senators will vote Tuesday for his nominee.

Malloy said Republicans "should be held accountable" for voting as a block against McDonald, who has been endorsed by various law schools and legal scholars. If confirmed, Malloy said McDonald would be the first gay chief justice of a state supreme court in the U.S.

“Every major league organization that took a position on this nomination said that Andrew was qualified – ethic experts, legal experts said that,” said Governor Malloy.

Malloy said he did not want the process to involve partisan politics, but said unfortunately it has. He claimed Republicans were always going to vote no for a number of reasons. One of them, Malloy said, is because McDonald is gay. If the vote goes through, McDonald would be the first gay chief justice in the country.

“Part of it may be addressed to the fact that they don’t like opinions he wrote, part of it has been addressed by people who don’t believe that a gay person should be on the Supreme Court,” added Malloy.

McDonald's nomination recently cleared the House of Representatives on a 75-74 vote. In the Senate, there are an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. But one Democrat is recusing herself, requiring GOP support.

"This afternoon, Senator Fasano informed me that the Senate Republicans plan to vote as a block against the nomination of Andrew McDonald to serve as the next Chief Justice of our Supreme Court," Gov. Malloy said. "I’d like to make three points before taking your questions."

You can read Malloy's full statement here.

Gov. Malloy added, "First, I’ve said this numerous times before, but I think it bears repeating – I will not pull Justice McDonald’s nomination.  I think he deserves a vote, and it my understanding from Sen. Looney that he will get one.  He is extremely well qualified to not only sit on the Supreme Court, but to serve as Chief Justice."

Senator Len Fasano denies partisan politics are behind the lack of GOP votes for Gov. Malloy's nominee for chief justice of the Connecticut State Supreme Court.

“Name is calling is below what this institution stands for and trying to hit a hot button name calling to me is absurd, ridiculous and disrespectful,” said Senator Fasano.

Fasano said it is more about McDonald’s judicial record. For example, his actions on the death penalty.

McDonald previously served as legal counsel to Governor Malloy and helped craft the bill which excluded anyone already on the death row. Then, as Supreme Court Justice ruled to expand the bill to include everyone on death row. Fasano believed this is a conflict of interest. As for Malloy’s claim, Republicans were always going to vote no.

“For him to suggest that my caucus doesn’t do homework and doesn’t read is insulting at its best and is an attack on the institution at worst because my guys do their homework,” added Sen. Fasano.

Sen. Fasano said Monday that members are not supporting the promotion of Associate Justice Andrew McDonald for various reasons, including pushing the "Supreme Court into areas it shouldn't be in."

The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on McDonald's nomination. While there's an equal number of Democrats and Republican, one Democrat has recused herself.

Malloy says he's not withdrawing his nominee, saying McDonald deserves a vote and Republicans "should be held accountable" for voting as a block against him.

Fasano says he's also offended by accusations that some senators won't vote for McDonald because he's gay.

McDonald’s nomination squeaked through the house and was approved by just one vote. The senate is tied by party line 18 to 18, but Democratic Gayle Slossberg has recused herself because of a persona conflict. That leaves McDonald’s chances hanging in the vote.

***Associated Press contributed to this report***