Dear Governor Hochul:

We write as Jewish lawyers to urge you to withdraw your nomination of Justice Hector LaSalle for Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals. We are called by our Jewish and American values to defend the rule of law, including the right to privacy and reproductive freedom, the right to associate freely and to demand better working conditions, and the right to justice in the criminal legal system. We are deeply concerned that elevating Justice LaSalle to Chief Judge would pose considerable danger to these core Jewish values.

In writing, we join our voices with many others in New York — including lawyers, leaders, and politicians in Latine, Black and Brown communities — who have spoken out in opposition to LaSalle. We write on the basis of our Jewish values, but our concerns about Justice LaSalle are shared by many communities across the state.

It is important to us as attorneys to raise the stature of the Court of Appeals. Under the Court’s prior leadership, there was a sharp, precipitous decline in the number of cases the court heard and the number of written decisions issued with substantive explanation. The Court of Appeals holds the final say as to what the law in the state is and what it means. The recent hard-right turn on the federal Supreme Court only emphasizes the importance of state high courts.

Key to having a balanced and diverse bench is having a multiplicity of experiences, educations, and backgrounds represented on the Court. Justice LaSalle is yet another former prosecutor — a perspective that is well-represented already on the Court. We are particularly concerned at the absence of any judge on the Court of Appeals with a background in public defense or legal services. President Biden has shown admirable interest in appointing such judges to the federal bench, and we urge you to follow his lead, withdraw this nomination, and take the opportunity to choose a Chief Judge who will bring to the Court the experience of working for the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

As Jewish attorneys, we are concerned about Justice LaSalle’s broad record, but are especially concerned about Justice LaSalle’s record in three crucial areas. First, he has shown himself hostile to reproductive rights, including the right to abortion, especially in his decision in Matter of Evergreen Ass’n, Inc. v. Schneiderman. Access to abortion is a key Jewish value, and indeed there are times when halacha not only permits but requires a Jewish person to have an abortion. Second, Torah creates strong obligations on the rights of workers and the prohibition of their exploitation; Justice LaSalle has repeatedly shown himself hostile to workers’ rights, most notoriously in Cablevision Sys. Corp. v. CWA Dist. 1. Finally, as Jews we are required to remember that we were strangers, slaves, and outcasts in the Land of Egypt, and thus that we must defend the rights of immigrants, criminal defendants, and the poor. Justice LaSalle has, in decisions like People v. Bridgeforth and Matter of Tyler L., disregarded due process rights of defendants.

The Torah demands of us, “Justice, justice you shall pursue” (Deut. 16:20). It is in that spirit that we write to you today. We urge you to withdraw your nomination of Justice LaSalle and instead to “appoint judges . . . [who] shall govern the people with due justice” (Deut. 16:18).


Melissa Ader
Jenny Akchin
Emma Alpert
Casey Anis
Jessica Apter
Phyllis Arnold
Deborah Axt
Beth Baltimore
Marla Band
Hugh Baran
Laura Berger
Danielle Bernstein
Max Bernstein
Nina Bernstein
Roger Bernstein
Genia Blaser
Benjamin Blum
Richard Blum
Whitney Braunstein
Nicole Bromberg
Ilona Coleman
Steve Demarest
Hannah Diamond
Jacqueline Dombroff
Eric Eingold
Jeri Essagof
Stephen Fein
Elizabeth S. Felber
Paula Galowitz
Jonathan Garelick
Leo Gertner
Claire Glass
Danielle Goodman-Levy
Daniel L. Greenberg
Nathan Gusdorf
Madeleine Gyory
Daniel Hamburg
Jessica Harris
Maya Henig
Josephine Herman
Jacob Hutt
Matthew Jacobs
Lauren Jones
Edie Joseph
David Karopkin
Alexandra Katz
Deborah Kick
Shana Knizhnik
Hanan Kolko
Estee Konor
Andrew Kossover
Samantha Kubek
Rachel Levenson
Benjamin Levine
Carl Levine
Michelle Lewin
Hannah Lieberman
Deborah Lolai
Sarah Lustbader
Sara Maeder
Michael Mandel
Emily Marcus
Peter L. Markowitz
Patricia McConnell
Christine McKeithan
Molly Meltzer
Denise Miller
S. Mills-Dirlam
Mik Moore
Adam Murphy
Paul D. Newell
Justine Olderman
Eliza Orlins
Rachel Paster
Lailah Pepe
Rachel Peyser
Stephanie Pope
Alexander Rabb
Jeremy Ravinsky
Janna Rosenberg
Noah Rosenblum
Rebecca B. Rosenfeld
Em Rosenfield
Kathleen Rubenstein
Benjamin Rutkin-Becker
Erin Schechter
Daniella Schmidt
Lisa Schreibersdorf
Eliza Schultz
Shelley Sherman
Brian Shupak
Debra Silverman
Hillela Simpson
Olivia Singer
Alana Sivin
Breanna Small
David Smiley
Paul Sonn
Gina Starfield
Mariel Stein
Heather Stoloff
Sarah Taitz
Saskia Valencia
Erica Vladimir
Lynn Vogelstein
Laura Waldman
Kara Wallis
Hannah Weinstein-Ammann
Avram Young
Peter Zweibach