The full state Senate is scheduled to vote today on the nomination of Daniel Gluck to the state Intermediate Court of Appeals after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against Gov. David Ige’s nominee on Wednesday.
The full Senate is not obligated to follow the 4-to-3 vote of the Judiciary Committee when it considers Ige’s nomination of Gluck, the executive director/general counsel for the state Ethics Commission.
Two days of Judiciary Committee hearings have touched on Gluck’s lack of experience before both the Intermediate Court of Appeals and Hawaii Supreme Court compared to the five other candidates Ige considered, particularly women of color.
In the process, hours of testimony have addressed the bigger issues of race and gender equality and the need for greater diversity on Hawaii’s high courts.
“The issue of systemic racism is completely embedded in every aspect of this vote,” Judiciary Committee member Sen. Laura Acasio, (D, Hilo), said Wednesday before voting against recommending Gluck’s nomination to the full Senate to serve on the ICA.
Acasio thanked the women of color in the legal community who perhaps risked their careers by testifying against Gluck’s nomination the day before.
They “put their neck on the line in many ways and went out of their comfort zones on all different levels, many of which I can never relate to as a white woman,” Acasio said. “If we keep kicking the can down the road and we don’t address those (issues) literally today, it’s pretty much a pipe dream that it will happen and it just continues to compound the trauma and the issues that will arise.”
The two days of committee hearings included sometimes passionate comments on the historic and current roles of women, Native Hawaiians and other under-represented people in island society, especially on Hawaii’s highest courts.
Before voting to support Gluck’s nomination, state Sen. Chris Lee, (D, Hawaii Kai-Waimanalo-Kailua) told his fellow Judiciary Committee members that he “pretty much didn’t sleep” following more than four hours of testimony on Tuesday.
“This is really about a lot more than the nominee before us,” Lee said. “It’s issues of gender and race and diversity and equal representation that were common themes that we heard repeatedly, almost from every testifier in one way or another.”
But, as head of the Ethics Commission, Gluck has not been afraid to speak “truth to power” and “held us all accountable,” including the Legislature, Lee said.
Before the start of the last legislative session, Gluck issued new guidance on a variety of topics that could get both lobbyists and lawmakers in trouble, including “Gifts and Fair Treatment,” “Conflicts of Interests,” “Post-Employment Restrictions and Contracts,” and “Lobbying.”
In a Dec. 7 memo, Gluck told lobbyists that “Gifts from lobbyists and their clients — to legislators and legislative staff — are generally prohibited. As a general rule, legislators and legislative staff may not accept ‘gifts of aloha’ (or items under $25), meals, or any other items of value from lobbyists or their clients.”
Gluck has appeared before the Legislature on a variety of issues, including budget requests, Lee said.
So reminding lawmakers and lobbyists about ethical behavior, Lee said, represents “That kind of unflinching, like, Eliot Ness character (that) is … exactly what Hawaii needs.”
State Sen. Kurt Fevella, (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point), a Native Hawaiian, voted against Gluck’s nomination and voted instead to recommend that the full Senate not confirm him.
Fevella cited historic racism and inequality to Hawaiians in their own land.
“We are now the minority in our own state, in our own country,” Fevella said.
But for Fevella, the bigger issue over Gluck’s nomination is the historic underrepresentation of women, including pay inequality.
If all six candidates for the Intermediate Court of Appeals had been women, Fevella said, the obvious choice would be to select the one who was most qualified. Instead, Fevella said, the nomination went to a white male with the least experience before Hawaii’s highest courts.
The committee’s initial vote — which failed — was to recommend that the full Senate consent to Gluck’s nomination.
Lee joined Judiciary Committee Chairman Karl Rhoads, (D, Downtown-Nuuanu-Liliha) and Sen. Mike Gabbard, (D, Kapolei-Makakilo) in voting yes.
They were opposed by Committee Vice Chairman Jarrett Keohokalole, (D, Kailua-Kaneohe), and Sens. Acasio, Donna Kim, (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa), and Fevella, the Senate’s minority leader.
The committee then voted against recommending Gluck’s nomination with the yes and no votes reversed.
Gluck, whom Lee said is Jewish, was raised in Buffalo, N.Y., and received his Bachelor of Science degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 2003 and previously served as legal director of the ACLU of Hawaii before taking over the state Ethics Commission.