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MacDonald Questioned By Democrats At Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing

Josh Rogers for NHPR

New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald faced sharp questions from Democrats during his Executive Council confirmation hearing to become the state's next supreme court Chief Justice.

But he also had strong backing from New Hampshire's legal community. 

Democrats, like Councilor Andru Volinsky, wanted to know why they should be confident someone who's never been a judge - but has been active in conservative politics - would put personal ideology to the side when deciding cases.

"You have no judicial record of having engaged in that exercise," Volinsky said.

But a procession of judges and lawyers, including former Justice Carol Ann Conboy, said MacDonald was up to that job, and the job of leading the court.

"He is committed to abiding by the rule of law and his integrity is unassailable," she said.

MacDonald told the Council he'd separate his personal views from his role as a judge if confirmed. 

"We all have personal beliefs, we all have thoughts we all have opinions, that's part of who we are," MacDonald said. "The essence of what a judge does is to exercise on a continual basis, the discipline of setting that aside and focusing on the law and the facts."

When asked about abortion, MacDonald said he he considers Roe v Wade settled law that he would be bound to follow. 

MacDonald would be the first person in recent history to be appointed chief justice in New Hampshire without any prior judicial experience. He'd also be Sununu's third appointment to the high court.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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