Key legislators see no ‘path forward’ on Lamont court nominee
Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday he was not giving up on Sandra Slack Glover as his nominee for the Connecticut Supreme Court, despite key Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee saying that a vote for her confirmation would fail.
Their dour assessment Tuesday came after more than seven hours of pointed questioning Monday by lawmakers about a letter she signed in May 2017 in support of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to a federal appeals court, a stepping stone to her elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022.
“I don’t really see a path forward for this particular nominee,” said Sen. John Kissel of Enfield, the ranking Senate Republican on the committee. “The votes aren’t even close to double digits in her favor.”
“I don’t know that there’s anything they can do,” Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, the committee’s co-chair, said of the Lamont administration.
The Judiciary Committee did not hold a scheduled vote on Glover’s confirmation Monday night after the long day of interrogation, followed by separate closed-door meetings of Democrats and Republicans on the committee.
“I think she did a great job yesterday,” Lamont said in a brief interview. “I think she shows her talent, and I think people know she shares our values. But there was some tough questioning there. I think a lot of people have already made up their mind. So, we’ll see.”
Glover told the committee that she regretted joining every clerk from the 1998-1999 term of the U.S. Supreme Court in signing a letter in support of their former fellow clerk, Barrett. It was an issue that dominated long stretches of the hearing.
Lamont said Glover had told his administration about the letter when she was offered the nomination.
“In hindsight, I know that Sandra regrets having that signed that letter along with all the other clerks,” Lamont said.
Winfield declined to provide a vote count, other than acknowledging Glover was significantly short of a majority.
“I don’t know how you overcome that,” he said.
Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said he met with Glover for several hours last week, as did House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford.
“I was very impressed by her qualifications. I think she’s extraordinarily able and capable. I know there are many members troubled by the letter,” said Looney, who had no advice for the administration on how to proceed. “At this point, I don’t know.”
Glover, 52, of Guilford is the appellate chief for the U.S. attorney of Connecticut and an honors graduate of the University of Virginia, Duke in 1993 and the University of Chicago Law School. Glover, a Democrat, clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Ritter said the letter she signed for Barrett in 2017 carries a different weight and meaning today, after Barrett’s elevation to the Supreme Court placed the conservative bloc in firm control. It allowed the court to overturn Roe v. Wade last year in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, allowing states to restrict or effectively ban abortion.
“I know she regrets it. And I’m sure she wishes she never signed it. But there are just some people who can’t get over that,” Ritter said. “And those conversations have to happen. Politics is a lot of luck and timing, whether you are running for higher office or get appointed. And given what happened with Dobbs and the timeliness of all that, it’s just really emotional.”
Ritter, who was prepared to support Glover if the nomination came to a floor vote, said he expected the governor and his staff to reach out to committee members.
“I think we encouraged the executive branch to reach out to legislators and have their own conversations. We’re OK with that. And I think they’re going to do that today,” Ritter said.
Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, the House co-chair of Judiciary, said Glover had his support if it came to a vote, but he declined to speculate about her chances of getting a majority.
“We had a very long public hearing. There was a lot of information shared at that hearing. I think folks are digesting it and considering it,” Stafstrom said. “I’m sure there’ll be several conversations with members today and trying to figure out where people are.”