To the Editor:

On March 27, Andrew McDonald was rejected by Connecticut Senate Republicans to become the Chief Justice of the state’s highest court. His nomination failed 19 to 16 this year; in 2013, McDonald was confirmed by a vote of 30-3. Like other Republicans, Senator Tony Hwang voted “No” to move forward Justice McDonald’s nomination, in political lockstep with his colleagues.

Obviously, something has changed since 2013. And the seismic shift in treatment of Justice McDonald should not be accepted as normal in Connecticut. Simply put, McDonald is an overqualified, dynamic candidate whose his public service has demonstrated his commitment to Connecticut. He presided over the extension of the repeal of capital punishment; he became our state’s first openly gay Supreme Court Justice — even as he was targeted by an anti-gay propaganda which labeled him as “a deviant mole on a mission to undermine American society with LGBT issues.” Today, his elevation to the Chief Justice post would have made Connecticut the first state to have a gay Chief Justice of a state’s highest court. In a time of fiscal instability in Connecticut and Trumpian rancor in Washington, residents deserved history-making bipartisanship that would have made future generations proud.

As in Washington, Republican-led dogma has infected our state leaders. Republicans suddenly viewed McDonald as an activist judge. Earlier this year, Republicans held him in a stunning 13-hour interrogation over past decisions. During that specticle, Representative Arthur O’Neill said it was “extremely unusual” that Governor Malloy presided over Mr. McDonald’s wedding. This week, Len Fasano said he just can’t be “captain” of this team — statements all tinged with homophobic undertones.

I will acknowledge that a man with decades of public service will have opinions, perspectives, rulings, and votes with which I disagree. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents share this with all of our elected officials. we all have differences with our elected officials.

Yet, Justice McDonald was held to an unattainable standard. In a state that prides itself on tolerance and open-mindedness, our leaders failed to look at the man before them. Republicans have pestered this man, badgered him, and shown an unwillingness to look forward. As Governor Malloy said on Tuesday, “No legislative leader, let alone a member of the Connecticut bar, has nitpicked, parsed, and deconstructed the decisions of a sitting judge more as Glen Fasano.”

Until today’s vote, Senator Hwang remained uncommitted — publically silent on the issue. Obviously, Mr. Hwang made him opinion known in his “No” vote this week. So, as I have asked privately to his office, and now ask publically, “Why, Mr. Hwang?” Lay out to your constituents — in specific terms — what made this man unqualified? We deserve an answer for the voters as we head to the polls in November.

Drew Coyne

Fairfield

To the Editor:

As we watch students across the country, our state, and right here in Fairfield step up to address their safety and the menace of irresponsible gun ownership, perhaps it's time we examine our own progress in Connecticut.

We have one of the toughest sets of gun safety regulations of any state in the nation. After the tragedy in Newtown, our state leadership engineered the passage of a law that banned semi-automatic weapons, limited magazine size, and created universal background checks. Despite being opposed by many Republicans in both houses of the General Assembly, this legislation was passed. Since that legislation was enacted in January of 2013, FBI studies indicate Connecticut has achieved the steepest decline in violent crime in any state in the nation. In fact, murders from guns have declined by some 40 percent. We know stricter gun laws work.

But now we hear of proposed laws that would force Connecticut to reciprocate others states’ concealed carry laws, and the arming of teachers. Enough!

I believe the vast majority of Connecticut residents wish to preserve the Second Amendment contrary to what GOP leadership and the NRA want you to believe. We also want safe schools and sensible gun laws, here and throughout the country. Let’s preserve the Second Amendment, ban assault weapons, and get even more sensible gun legislation now.

Leanne Harpin

Fairfield