They searched the entire state of New York, but could not find a single female qualified to be a candidate for chief judge of the Court of Appeals. So the Commission on Judicial Nomination presented an all-male list of seven recommended candidates to the governor. Sources say that several women were considered by the Commission but did not make the final cut.
The absence of any recommended females did not sit well with Governor David Paterson, according to the Feminist Daily News. As reported by the Times Union, the governor questioned how the members of the Commission could feel comfortable submitting a list of candidates, where not one of them “represents half of the human race.”
Governor Paterson, however, has little or no recourse except to express outrage that no women were recommended. Under New York law, the governor is obligated to choose one of the candidates recommended by the Commission. It is unlikely that the Commission will revise its list, either by substituting a woman for one of the recommended men or by addition a female to the list. The governor stated that he would not ignore the Commission’s recommendations notwithstanding his disappointment in the selections.
State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo also expressed his disapproval of the all-male list and announced that his office would examine the available legal options and report back to the governor. The possibility of expanding the list of candidates or changing the selection process will be considered. Ironically, the attorney general’s father, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, also objected when he was handed an all-male list back in 1983. Bound by state law, however, he was required to choose one of the recommended male candidates.
The list, which included one member of a minority group but no Hispanics, was also weak from the standpoint of ethnic diversity. According to theTimes Union, Bronx Assemblyman Peter Rivera announced his belief that the Commission should prepare another list “that takes into account all of the great talent and diversity we have in New York.”
The controversial nominations are to fill the chief judge slot being vacated by Judge Judith S. Kaye, who is retiring after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70. In 1993, appointed by former Governor Mario Cuomo, Judge Kaye became the first woman to serve as chief judge. She has been instrumental in advocating that judges receive pay raises comparable to those of other state employees.
Jeremy W. Peters, “Paterson Criticizes Panel for Its Judicial Selections,” New York Times (Dec. 3, 2008)
Rick Karlin & Irene Jay Liu, “Paterson, Cuomo hit jurist picks,” Times Union (Dec.. 4, 2008)
“New York Governor Rejects All-Male List for Judicial Appointment,” Feminist Daily News Wire (Dec. 4, 2008)
Capitol Confidential, “And Rivera too,” The Times Union (Dec. 3, 2008)
James Barron, “State’s Top Judge, Now 70, Gives Her Farewell Speech,” New York Times (Nov. 12, 2008)