Following the national embarrassment that was New York's failed redistricting process, made possible by a conservative bloc on the state's highest court that were all appointed by Democrats, you would think that Governor Kathy Hochul would make sure of a few things when appointing a new chief judge to lead the Court of Appeals.
First off, with an "Imperial Supreme Court" rewriting constitutional rights on the fly in D.C., the state's own courts are now tasked with protecting New Yorkers' abortion and labor rights. Perhaps she might want to nominate someone who cares about those issues! (She herself wrote in November, "We are now relying on our state courts more than ever to protect our rights. We need our courts to defend against this Supreme Court's rapid retreat from precedent and continue our march toward progress.") On top of that, she could consider criminal justice groups' pleas and add a criminal defense attorney to the bench after years of it being stacked with prosecutors—even "crime bill" Joe Biden just appointed a public defender to the Supreme Court. And in terms of New York's never-ending redistricting saga, a more liberal judge could give New York's legislators another crack at creating district lines in 2024, allowing them to undo the handiwork of the state's conservative bloc.
Hochul was given seven options by a non-partisan panel; it would make sense for Hochul to choose possibly not the most left-wing, but someone who wouldn't just hand the three conservative judges currently serving on the court power once more.
Still, progressives shouldn't get too excited about the prospect of LaSalle's nomination being derailed. This is Albany, after all—where the state senate just confirmed reactionary judge Madeline Singas to the bench last year. If LaSalle is confirmed, legislation in New York will be subject to a conservative veto until at least 2030.
Hochul's decision has a lot of people scratching their heads. Why would an unpopular governor who barely survived a reactionary challenge further alienate the base of her own party? But that question rests on the assumption that Hochul and the Democrats lining up behind her appointment actually want to protect workers, bodily autonomy, and the right to challenge law enforcement in court. If you've been paying any attention over the past thirty years, it's quite clear that many of them really don't.
Thousands of rent-stabilized apartments are vanishing from the market. The CITY found that landlords are just lying to both their tenants and the state about the regulated status of many apartments. And tenants often move out before they get their day in court to prove otherwise.
And finally, a programming note—Morning Spew will be taking a break until the New Year, but Hell Gate will still be publishing some stories over the next week. Enjoy the holidays, stay warm, and we hope you'll continue to support worker-owned local journalism well into 2023! Might we interest you in some stocking stuffer subscriptions?