Fallout from NY state Senate's rejection of Hector Lasalle as chief judge continues

Judge Hector LaSalle appeared for the first time in public since his nomination for Chief Judge was rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

LaSalle was being honored at a New York State Bar Association event, which Fox 5 News was invited to attend.

However, not only did LaSalle refuse to respond or even acknowledge our questions, his security also fought to block us from the main event room where we had been just moments before.

Governor Kathy Hochul is the first governor in New York’s history to have her pick for the state’s top judge rejected, but she is not admitting defeat just yet.

Hochul says that she is considering legal action to force a full vote by the State Senate.

"We are certainly weighing all of our options," Hochul said at a separate event on Thursday.

LaSalle faced an unprecedented level of criticism ahead of his five hour confirmation hearing, mostly from labor unions and members of Hochul’s own party.

Many Democrats argued that LaSalle has ruled against unions, shielded anti-abortion pregnancy centers and allowed jurors to be blocked from serving due to their skin color.

During the confirmation hearing, LaSalle also said he was proud to have run on Republican, Democrat, Working Families Party and Conservative party lines during judicial elections.

"As an LGBTQ person, the Conservative Party stands for everything I’m against, against my right to marry, against my ability to have kids, against transgender youth," Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal said during the hearing. "It’s hurtful."

Typically if a bill fails in committee it does not proceed to the full Senate for a vote.

But former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman argues that in this case, it is required by the constitution.

"It is without any doubt whatsoever that Senate rules cannot trump the state constitution," Lippman stated.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins released a harsh statement, seemingly in response to Hochul threatening to sue saying: "This ongoing attack makes it clear that there are those that don't accept the Senate's role in this process, and will not be happy unless we simply act as a rubber stamp. This is a dangerous infringement of the separation of powers. More and more people are waking up to the importance and impacts of the courts based on the events of the past year. This Senate takes our role seriously and we will continue to represent the best interest of the people. Justice LaSalle was rejected based on his record and after 5 hours of testimony."

According to Law expert and attorney Christopher Bopst, this is far from a clear-cut case.

"Historically courts have not gotten into micromanaging how legislative branches conduct their business, but this is an unusual circumstance," Bopst, Partner at Wilder & Linneball explained. "So it's really tough to say what ultimately the courts might do with this."

Republicans in the State Legislature, who are largely supportive of LaSalle, say they are also considering legal action in order to force a full vote by the Senate.