Sweeney & Weinberg: Statements on Supreme Court Confirmation Process

Yesterday’s explosive Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, which ended with a 7-6 rejection of Gov. Christie’s nominee Phillip Kwon and a string of incendiary words from some of the committee Republicans, brought out an altogether expected burst of bluster from the Governor, who called the hearing a “circus”.

After all the sturm und drang, it’s important not to lose the substance of the objections raised in yesterday’s questions and answers. There were serious issues at issue for the committee, as two statements released today by Senator Loretta Weinberg, Senate Majority Leader, member of the Judiciary Committee and also of the Blue Jersey community, and Senate President Steve Sweeney, who was present for the vote.

What did Weinberg & Sweeney say? Jump with me …

What the Governor failed to understand is that the Senate Judiciary Committee has a serious responsibility in confirming nominees to the state’s highest court. This is a responsibility we take seriously. The court has a tradition and history of partisan balance and ideological fairness that the Governor seems intent on violating. He has a record of attacking the courts and denigrating judges when he disagrees with their decisions and he’s made no secret of his desire to reshape the Supreme Court to his own liking. It’s not Chris Christie’s court, it’s the New Jersey Supreme Court. The state would be ill served for generations to come if he is allowed to pack the court with ideological judges with an agenda that would turn back the clock on mainstream values. He can’t be allowed to turn the New Jersey Supreme Court into a political entity for the sake of his political agenda.”

                                                          – Loretta Weinberg

The governor may be entitled to his own nominees for cabinet posts, but we will not allow him to pack the Supreme Court. There are still two open seats. The governor talks often of how ‘elections have consequences.’ For him, the consequence of the people electing a Democratic Legislature concerned with protecting the integrity of our legal system is now clear. The governor must work with us to put together a balanced tandem of candidates for the Court. The Senate will not consider anything less.”

                                                           – Steve Sweeney

For all the Governor and his representatives in the legislature have carried on about the nature of questions addressed to nominee Kwon, it’s valuable to remember the awesome power the judicial branch holds, and how seriously both the executive and legislative branches must be in nominating and confirming justices. Christie knows that power well, or he wouldn’t be trying to stack the high court with a GOP partisan advantage, perhaps under the guise of much-wanted diversity. After all the theatrics of yesterday’s hearing, and all the stomping around of Christie’s legislative minions, it still remains that potential Supreme Court justices were, and should be, questioned seriously.

Both Weinberg and Sweeney, and the aggregate questions raised to the nominee yesterday, signal that consideration of Supreme Court nominees will be taken seriously, whether the Governor likes it or not. As it should be.  

Comments (7)

  1. deciminyan

    Having sat through the entire 6 hours of testimony, one hour of summation, and waiting during the one hour of closed session, I can say that the entire Democratic contingent (with the exception of Senator Stack, who was silent throughout the proceedings) made me proud of them. All were calm, reasoned, and fair to the nominee. On the other hand, several of the Republicans were incoherent, disrespectful to incumbent justices, and one pounded his fist on his desk. Acting like spoiled children is not what we expect of our officials.

  2. firstamend07

    Sweeney is a moderate,is and will always be.Weinberg is well left of center,that of course will never change.

    Together they seem to communicate well and work out solutions. They do ” tone” each other down and create a very formidable duo.

    Sweeney made a gutsy decision to make Weinberg his #2. It is a decision that will be good for Democrats and more importantly for the citizens of New Jersey.    

  3. Sweeney/Weinberg are a GREAT team.  I’m a legislative rat – over the past 20 years, I’ve been Congressional staffer in both the U.S. House and Senate, and would go on to work the New Jersey legislature on lots of bills in my current role leading Garden State Equality.  I love the legislative process to no end.  I have never seen a better legislative leadership team than this one – Steve, Loretta and their amazing staff.  They compliment each other in every way and unify the party to boot, FINALLY.  I want to make clear:  I have loved previous New Jersey Senate leaders, a lot.  Still do.  That includes Senators Codey and Buono.  But this team works has such complementarity and unity like I’ve never seen. I hope there comes a point where Steve Sweeney will have earned the trust of the progressive Democratic community.  I like him tons.

  4. sandy23

    I must not have been paying attention, but the last I heard was kudos for the diversity slant.

    What happened after that, what made this candidate unacceptable?


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