With a Republican-led Executive Council in place, Gov. Chris Sununu will again nominate state Attorney General Gordon MacDonald today to serve as the next chief justice of the N.H. Supreme Court.
In an announcement Wednesday, Sununu said he plans to make the nomination during the first Executive Council meeting of the new year. If confirmed, MacDonald will succeed Chief Justice Bob Lynn, who retired in August 2019, and will assume leadership of the Judicial Branch from Senior Associate Justice Gary Hicks.
Sununu nominated MacDonald to serve as chief justice in 2019, but the Executive Council rejected the nomination.
The three council Democrats argued MacDonald has no trial court experience and that his ideological leanings made him a poor fit. Councilor Debora Pignatelli said there were already too many conservatives on the court, appointed by Sununu.
In November’s election, Pignatelli and fellow Democrat Michael Cryans were replaced by Republicans David Wheeler and Joseph Kenney, flipping the council to a 4-1 GOP majority.
MacDonald has served as the state’s attorney general since April 2017. During his time in that role, he was instrumental in establishing the department’s first Civil Rights Unit.
“Gordon has served this State with distinction as Attorney General for the last four years, and I am honored to nominate him to lead our State’s highest court,” Sununu said in a prepared statement issued Wednesday. “From suing polluters to leading the fight against Massachusetts’ unconstitutional taxation of our citizens in the United States Supreme Court, Gordon has never been afraid to take the action that he believes is right, even when that course may not be the easiest.”
A graduate of Dartmouth College and Cornell Law School, MacDonald served as a judicial law clerk to Judge Norman H. Stahl of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Prior to serving as Attorney General, MacDonald was a Partner at Nixon Peabody LLP in Manchester. He has been a member of the New Hampshire Bar since 1995.