We so rarely hear from our elected officials in these pages on issues of importance. Thanks to State Senator Shelley Mayer for responding to the letter from Mitchell Krapes (February 10, 2023) detailing the unfair and biased treatment of Judge Hector LaSalle. Although I appreciate Senator Mayer’s concern for the “operation of our huge court system from the perspective of our constituents,” she conveniently leaves out a few facts in her recent letter concerning her opposition to the nomination of Justice LaSalle as Chief Judge of the state Court of Appeals.
First, Mayer praises the “thoughtful, full, and fair hearing” LaSalle received before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mayer and her fellow Democrats defeated the nomination in committee by a vote of 10-9. Yet, as pointed out by Mr. Krapes, she fails to mention the fact that Senate Democrats, at the last moment, stacked the Judiciary committee against LaSalle by adding three additional LaSalle opponents, including her, to ensure that LaSalle would lose the committee vote.
Second, Mayer along with other Democrats, contended that they could defeat the LaSalle nomination by a Judiciary Committee vote despite the clear mandate of the state Constitution that the full Senate must vote on Court of Appeals nominees. A full vote was hastily arranged only after Senate Republicans filed a lawsuit to force such a vote. Democrats then voted down the nomination, while still contending that a full Senate vote was unnecessary. Subsequently, the judge hearing that lawsuit declared that Senate Democrats had violated the state Constitution in failing to bring the nomination to the floor.
This is the second time in less than a year that Mayer and her colleagues have been found by state courts to have violated the Constitution. The first time was their failed efforts to unconstitutionally rig the congressional and senate districts with an unlawful gerrymander.
Senator Mayer and others falsely contended that LaSalle was anti-abortion or anti-labor. She said she spoke with legal experts. However, numerous legal analysts – both liberal and conservative – have said Democrats were grossly misrepresenting various decisions upon which LaSalle participated as Presiding Justice of the Appellate Court.
The real objection to LaSalle seems to be that he decides cases based on the law and judicial precedent. He doesn’t base decisions on personal whim or political preferences but does his job in a fair and impartial manner. So-called “progressives” aren’t satisfied; instead, they want judges to become political actors to decide cases because they like the outcomes.
If we are to stay a nation of laws and not of men or women, the courts should be blind to political winds. Unfortunately, Sen. Mayer and her colleagues have forgotten this ideal.
- Julie Killian