108 days

That’s how long Chris Christie managed to govern before a state appellate court had to scold him for a greedy executive power grab.

Earlier today the court ruled that Christie overstepped his authority when he issued an executive order applying pay-to-play regulations to public sector unions. In a per curiam decision, the court held that Executive Order No. 7, one of eight Christie signed on his first day in office, “is so fundamentally incompatible with our existing laws and statutes as to impair the ‘essential integrity’ of the constitutional powers of the Legislature.”

In short, the court reminded Christie that, even though he was elected governor last November with 48.75% of the vote, he is not entitled to make his own laws. If Christie wants to limit campaign contributions of public employee unions, he can ask the legislature to pass new legislation to that effect.

The governor seems to have learned well from his former boss, who aggressively pushed to expand and abuse the power of the president. Christie, like Bush, possesses a seemingly endless supply of arrogance. He will attempt to abuse his power again, even though New Jersey’s governor is already one of the most powerful state executives in the nation.

Fortunately, we also have a state judiciary that is willing to rebuke the governor when he oversteps his authority—at least for now. But we may not in the future. Christie will be able to pick as many as four judges to the seven-member Supreme court. Don’t be surprised if the Governor takes another page from the Bush playbook by nominating judges who he can count on to accede to his executive power grabs. Christie may figure that if he wins the judiciary, the legislature won’t matter anymore. Legislative Democrats should closely scrutinize all of Christie’s judicial appointments, rejecting them where appropriate, lest the governor’s executive power grabs more often go unchecked.

Comments (2)

  1. the_promised_land

    Good points, Scott, but note that it is a three judge panel of the Appellate Division, not the Supreme Court, that decided this. Christie can choose whether to petition the Supreme Court for certification of the case within 20 days. The Court can then choose to take it or not (and it’s possible they may not, b/c it is not a close call).

  2. The Wizard

    from Karl Rove.


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