The Connecticut House is scheduled to consider Andrew McDonald for Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court on Monday.
In the days leading up to Monday the pressure has ramped up from those who support him, with the group, True Justice, launching a television ad campaign aimed at urging people to call their state senators in support.
The group is funded by backers of McDonald, who would become the country’s first openly gay Chief Justice.
McDonald met for three hours Thursday with Rep. Themis Klarides and Sen. Len Fasano, the top two Republicans in the Connecticut General Assembly. They went over McDonald’s decisions and writings since he joined the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2012 as an Associate Justice. Both Fasano and Klarides knew McDonald from his days as a state senator representing Stamford, and as Gov. Dannel Malloy’s legal adviser.
“It’s unfortunate. This is not a political issue. It’s a substantive issue,” said Sen. Fasano, (R – North Haven), of the ad that aligned Republicans in Connecticut with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence with the words, “Stop the Hate,” emblazoned in all capital letters across the screen.
When asked whether he planned on voting for McDonald, Fasano said, “I have not firmly made up my mind but the questions that I have leans me in a no direction. But it’s only a lean. I still need to understand this more.”
According to three sources with knowledge of the meeting McDonald held with Klarides and Fasano, the Associate Justice told the Republican leaders that he did not feel his sexual orientation would factor into their specific opposition to his ascension to Chief Justice. However, the sources also told NBC Connecticut that McDonald’s comments regarding Fasano and Klarides were not widespread feelings about the House and Senate GOP caucuses, acknowledging that some members would not be comfortable with an openly gay chief justice.
Democrats in the House are optimistic about McDonald’s prospects in that chamber, with Rep. William Tong, who chairs the Judiciary Committee that did not give McDonald’s nomination a favorable report, saying, “I think the House has a full set of information to act and on and Justice McDonald will have the support of the House on Monday.”
Sen. Martin Looney, (D – New Haven), the top Democrat in the Senate where McDonald’s confirmation could be denied, fired directly at Sen. Fasano, accusing him of playing politics with the appointment.
Looney wrote in a statement, “(Fasano) is desperately trying to deflect attention from the fact that he and the Senate Republicans are marching in lockstep with Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Mitch McConnell, and are preparing to block the confirmation of a historic and highly qualified nominee.”