President Joe Biden’s nomination Friday of Maria Araujo Kahn to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals creates the possibility of a vacancy on the Connecticut Supreme Court prior to the gubernatorial election.
Kahn, 57, an associate justice on the state’s highest court, faces confirmation by a closely divided U.S. Senate looking ahead to the summer recess and midterm elections.
The Biden administration is expected to push the Senate to fast-track the confirmation of Kahn and seven others the president nominated Friday as judges of federal trial or appeals courts.
Kahn is a former federal prosecutor and public defender who was nominated as Superior Court judge in 2006 by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and was twice promoted in 2017 by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
In a five-month period, Malloy named her to the Appellate Court and then the Supreme Court. She was born in Angola to Portuguese parents and emigrated from Africa to the U.S. as a 10-year-old.
She is a graduate of New York University and Fordham Law School.
“An immigrant to the United States and role model for other judges across Connecticut, Justice Kahn is an inspiration that represents the best of our state,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I look forward to championing and supporting her nomination.”
The 2nd Circuit comprises New York, Connecticut and Vermont.
If confirmed to the federal appeals court, Kahn would resign from the state bench and give Lamont his third opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice.
His two prior choices were women with long experience as lower-court judges: Christine E. Keller, who retired this year; and Joan K. Alexander, who succeeded her.
With the legislature no longer in session, Lamont can only make an interim appointment, subject to review by the legislature’s Judiciary Committee. It was unclear Friday whether he would do so.
A full eight-year term on the Supreme Court would require the winner of the gubernatorial election in November to make a permanent nomination in January, also subject to legislative confirmation.
If he does make an interim nomination, it would be up to the winner of the gubernatorial election in November to resubmit the nomination in January for a full eight-year term.