The Executive Council today rejected Governor Sununu’s nomination of Attorney General Gordon MacDonald to be Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. The vote was along party lines, with Councilors Russell Prescott and Ted Gatsas in favor, and Michael Cryans, Andru Volinsky, and Debora Pignatelli opposed.
The vote follows Cryans’s announcement in a Valley News interview that he found MacDonald not “strong enough” on abortion rights. Earlier, two former leaders of an abortion advocacy group had signed an op-ed in the Concord Monitor questioning MacDonald’s position on abortion.
Eighteen former New Hampshire Bar Association presidents released a letter on July 9 endorsing MacDonald, which said in part, “Failure to confirm such a high performing, well qualified standard bearer for attorney service ostensibly for failure to provide guarantees on the outcome on certain issues is fundamentally troubling.”
In a lengthy Twitter thread following the vote, Governor Sununu said he was “absolutely disappointed for Gordon. To have one of the most qualified and widely supported nominees in the state’s history treated in this way because of politics is reprehensible enough, but just as concerning is the damage done to our process….The political extremism shown today is an unconscionable breach of the public trust.”
Sununu also announced he would bring no more judicial nominees forward “until I have confidence there’s appropriate perspective from the Council on their responsibilities to the process and to the state.” Accordingly, he withdrew the nomination of Martin Honigberg to the Superior Court, on which the Council had been scheduled to vote later in its meeting.
Previous coverage on the Grok: Who’s Influencing State Supreme Court Nomination?