McDonald, 46, confirmed to state Supreme Court

Hartford (AP) - The General Assembly overwhelmingly confirmed former Stamford state Sen. Andrew McDonald as the newest member Connecticut's Supreme Court and the state's first openly gay appellate jurist.

The House of Representatives approved McDonald's nomination Wednesday on a 125-to-20 vote. Earlier in the day, the Senate confirmed McDonald on a 30-to-3 vote.

The 46-year-old McDonald, a Democrat who served as co-chairman of the legislature's Judiciary Committee during his eight-year Senate tenure, was praised by his former Senate colleagues and House members as someone with the intellect and temperament to serve on the state's highest court. McDonald most recently served as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's legal counsel.

"It's my opinion that attorney McDonald is a person who has exhibited excellence in everything he has done," said Sen. Eric Coleman, D-Bloomfield, the current Senate chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

However, McDonald received criticism from Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, on Wednesday for proposing legislation in 2009 that gave lay members of the Roman Catholic Church more control over parish finances.

McLachlan called the failed proposal "unconstitutional" and "a direct attack on the Catholic Church."

"I believe that someone who is willing to take that kind of action in the state legislature is not an appropriate candidate for a Supreme Court justice in the state of Connecticut," he said.

But some top Republicans said they believed McDonald will set aside personal opinions on issues and be a fair jurist.

"While he is strong-willed, while he does believe very strongly in things that he advocates, he is also fair-tempered," said Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. "He'll listen to both sides and will fashion a compromise to get everyone where they need to be."

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