Despite Objections, Rivera Confirmed
Jenny Rivera was confirmed today by the state Senate to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals after an unusually contentious process that brought accusations of social engineering on the part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and that Republican lawmakers were “playing politics.”
Rivera’s confirmation, which passed in a voice vote, was opposed by some Senate Republicans who said the CUNY law professor, a deputy attorney general under Cuomo and former clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor lacked the qualifications for the job.
Democrats, in turn, charged that Rivera was more than able for the job and pointed to other Court of Appeals judges and Supreme Court justices who had never served as trial judges.
Though Rivera’s confirmation was approved, the episode highlighted a growing rift between Cuomo and the Senate GOP after a two-year working relationship that has produced broad agreements on same-sex marriage, gun control and a compromise on keeping part of the millionaires tax.
Cuomo said last week the debate over Rivera’s nomination is part of the typical give and take in Albany.
But Senate Judiciary Chairman John Bonacic was particularly biting in his assessment today of Rivera.
“I find her writings to be confusing and unclear and overwhelmingly not reflective of the number of cases or subject matters that comes before a Court of Appeals judge,” Bonacic said, adding, “This governor is asking this body to make a leap from the academia world right to the highest court in the state of New York.”
It was Bonacic who last week said that Rivera and others were the product of “social engineering” of the court by Cuomo and past governors. Instead of backing down, Bonacic reiterated his views today, noting that Rivera replaces a Hispanic woman on the court.
Rivera is the second Hispanic woman to sit on the state’s highest court and replaces the first, Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, who retired in January.
There was also the underlying concern from Republicans that Rivera be a judicial activist on the court.
Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, decried her lack of “broad experiences.”
“If the decision is made that this is going to be an Hispanic that is appointed by the governor and it’s obvious no one can deny that, they should be the best possible candidate for the state of New York and that is not this candidate,” DeFrancisco said.
Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, who surprised his colleagues last week when he said he would vote in favor of Rivera’s confirmation, has made an effort in the last several years to reach out to Hispanic voters, but his conference after this election cycle remains all white.
Democrats in both the independent conference and the mainline conference backed her credentials.
“She is highly qualified to field the needs and interpret the law for millions and millions New Yorkers who may not be as lucky to work in a white shoe law firm in Wall Street,” said Sen. Adriano Espaillat.
Democratic Sen. Bill Perkins took particular exception to the “social engineering” comment from Bonacic.
“Social engineering for me is another term for the old boys’ network,” he said.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on February 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm, and is filed under Albany, Andrew Cuomo, Courts, State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|