A panel of senators declined to recommend Dan Gluck for a seat on the Intermediate Court of Appeals Wednesday morning.
Gluck’s nomination to the court will still move forward for a vote by the full 25-member Senate, but without support from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is tasked with vetting candidates for judicial vacancies.
The committee vote was 4-3.
Sens. Jarrett Keohokalole, Laura Acasio, Donna Kim and Kurt Fevella voted against Gluck’s nomination.
Sens. Karl Rhoads, Mike Gabbard and Chris Lee voted in favor of Gluck.
In a written statement Wednesday afternoon, Gov. David Ige reiterated his support for Gluck’s appointment to the ICA.
“I stand by my appointment of Daniel Gluck to the Intermediate Court of Appeals,” Ige said. “I believe his expertise in civil rights and his being a voice for those without a voice is what we need on the ICA.”
Ige said he reviewed the applicants sent to him by the Judicial Selection Commission and found Gluck to be “highly qualified to serve on the court.”
On Tuesday, Gluck faced questions from senators over his qualifications for a seat on the ICA.
He highlighted his record as a civil litigator with the American Civil Liberties Unions of Hawaii and his experience as an administrator as executive director of the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.
Gov. David Ige selected Gluck from a list of candidates that included people of color and three women, one of whom is a sitting judge.
On Tuesday, testifiers who opposed Gluck questioned his legal experience compared to the other candidates. Some called for him to withdraw his nomination.
Sen. Joy San Buenaventura, who is also an attorney, posed that question to Gluck.
“If you really do truly believe in diversity and historic biases … shouldn’t you withdraw your nomination?” San Buenaventura asked.
Gluck said he’d expressed a willingness to serve Hawaii, and the decision of whether or not he’ll make it to the ICA was up to the Senate.
The full 25-member Senate will reconvene Thursday morning to vote on Gluck’s appointment.
Vote Speaks To Broader Issues
For members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the vote on Gluck wasn’t just a vote for a single judicial candidate. Fair or not, his nomination has become a symbol of deeply rooted issues in Hawaii, specifically race and gender diversity.
Lee said that lawmakers have not done a good job of addressing systemic racism and biases in the state, but worried that voting based on someone’s race could set a bad precedent.
“If we vote based race and ethnicity, we put ourselves in a position to decide which minority groups are worthy of going forward,” Lee said.
Kim said the vote on Gluck is not only based on race, but a combination of factors including experience, the community’s feelings about Gluck and his responses on Tuesday to questions about his qualifications and other systemic issues in Hawaii.
“I don’t want this to go down that this is merely a vote regarding, race because it is not,” Kim said.
For Fevella, the only Republican on the committee, the vote was about gender balance in the courts. He said Gluck is qualified for the position and is a “great guy” but wants to see more women come forward.
“If we vote him through, all these women who had the courage to testify … will lose the idea of trying to get in higher power,” Fevella said.
Acasio said longstanding issues in Hawaii need to be dealt with.
“If we keep kicking the can down the road, and we don’t address those, literally today, it’s just a pipe dream that it will happen,” she said. “And it just continues to compound the trauma and issues that will arise.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell