“… side show …
… lynching …
… left-wing …
… freak show …
.. Korean witch hunt …”
Attendees at today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court nominee Phillip Kwon – and those who watched NJTV’s coverage live – got an earful today as Republican members of the committee ratcheted up the rhetoric into the stratosphere unable to sit still as Democrats put questions to Christie’s nominee. Kwon would have been the first Asian American to serve on New Jersey’s high court.
In the end, after a full day of questioning and testimony, the panel voted 7-6 against Kwon, with Senator Brian Stack voting alongside the Republicans.
Blue Jersey maintained a nearly 8-hour Live-Tweet account of the proceedings @bluejersey. We will have video coverage and interviews posted tomorrow, with a first interview with Blue Jersey’s own Senator Loretta Weinberg later tonight.
O’Toole, whose mother is Korean-born, has been vocal in his support of Kwon in the run-up to this hearing, speaking publicly alongside the something called the Korean American Voters Council, and former Edison Mayor Jun Choi. But today, O’Toole plunged deep into angry vitriol:
“We didn’t have a hearing. We had a lynching. I don’t think this nominee was given a fair chance.”
– Sen. Kevin O’Toole, Republican Whip
Sen. Weinberg, Senate Majority Leader and a member of the Committee, suggested Christie tried to pass Kwon off as an independent, blaming the Governor’s drive to remake the Court in his own image.
She was also apparently unsatisfied with the committee’s findings of his family’s finances, including his wife’s income, which was investigated by federal authorities for suspicious deposits. “I don’t think we got all the real answers, and for that reason I am voting no.”
More, plus the vote count, below the fold.
The vote (Democrats):
Greenstein: No (sitting in for the vacationing Sen. Bob Smith)
Gill: No (Committee Vice-Chair)
Scutari: No (Committee Chair)
All 5 Republicans on the Judiciary Committee voted Yes.
Testimony against Kwon’s nomination ranged from Labor in the form of AFL-CIO to the right-wing Eagle Forum. Sen. Ronald Rice spoke on behalf of the legislative black caucus against Kwon. Sen. Nellie Pou used her time at the microphone to cite the lack of transparency in Kwon’s financial information. Pou said Kwon’s answers “defy logic”.
Also at issue today was Gov. Christie’s clear efforts to shift the high court’s partisan balance. Both Harris and Kwon have been affiliated with the Republican Party. Sen. Lesniak said Kwon couldn’t change his party affiliation by merely changing his party registration, seeing through a poorly-executed effort to remake Kwon in an unaffiliated image.
Voting Yes, Democratic senator Brian Stack cited Kwon’s commitment to public service. “He could make a lot more money with the experience he has.”
After a nearly 8-hour hearing on Kwon, consideration of the other nominee, Bruce Harris, has been held over to another day, at the request of the Governor.