Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald’s bid for that court’s chief justiceship came to an end yesterday, when the state senate rejected his nomination by a 19-16 vote. One Senator abstained due to personal conflicts.
The nomination seemed troubled from the start. McDonald has been a close political associate of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy for years, and that affiliation hurt him during the confirmation process. He drew a 20-20 tie vote in committee, and barely passed through the Connecticut House on a 75-74 vote. In the Senate, his nomination was opposed by every Republican, as well as one Democrat.
Some have been quick to blame the failed nomination on McDonald’s status as an openly gay man, suggesting that the opposition was driven by homophobia. But cooler heads have pointed out that McDonald was not helped by Malloy’s animated approach to the nomination, which evidently included promises to fill the next open seat on the court with a Republican. If anything, McDonald’s nomination was undone by classic politics — that is, authentic disputes over public policy — rather than modern identity politics. Better than his nomination had not come down to politics at all, but the insinuation that he is not chief justice today because of his sexual orientation is offensive to all sensible people.