UPDATE: On Wednesday, April 19, the New York Senate voted 47-12 to confirm Caitlin J. Halligan as associate judge for the New York Court of Appeals, filling the vacancy left by now-Chief Judge Rowan Wilson. The state’s highest court now has a full bench for the first time since August.
WASHINGTON D.C. — On Tuesday, April 18, the New York Senate voted 40-19 to confirm Judge Rowan Wilson as the chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court). Wilson, a liberal-leaning judge, previously served as an associate judge on the New York Court of Appeals and will be the first Black judge in the chief judge position, succeeding Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who stepped down last August. Wilson’s confirmation comes after a months-long stalemate between the state Senate and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) over her nomination — and the Senate’s ultimate rejection — of Hector LaSalle.
To fill Wilson’s now vacant associate judge position, Hochul nominated Caitlin J. Halligan, former solicitor general for the state of New York. The Senate is expected to vote on her confirmation later today, which will be preceded by a committee vote before then heading to the floor. Senate Republicans have hinted at a potential lawsuit over a recently enacted law that allows Hochul to nominate two judges — Wilson and Halligan — from the nominating committee’s list of recommended chief judge candidates provided to Hochul.
State courts, particularly the highest courts, are extremely important in the context of voting rights and redistricting lawsuits. In 2022, redistricting litigation over New York’s congressional and state Senate maps made it to the state’s highest court, resulting in a redraw that significantly shifted New York’s congressional delegation.
Two important cases are currently before the state’s intermediate appellate court and could potentially be before the state’s highest court in the future:
- Hoffmann v. New York State Independent Redistricting Commission challenges the 2021 map-drawing actions of New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission.
- Fossella v. Adams challenges New York City’s noncitizen voting law.