“In nominating Bruce Harris and Phillip Kwon to the state Supreme Court, Christie has done what no other governor has ever done – tried to make the Supreme Court an arm of his political party. Now, Christie is asking the Legislature to accept three Republican nominations in a row.” – James Harris, President, NJ NAACP
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday to review Governor Christie’s two recent Supreme Court nominations of Phillip Kwon and Bruce Harris, following upon his nomination of Anne Patterson, who was confirmed last year. Christie has made no secret of his intentions, “saying he wanted to rein in a court he considers too activist.”
“Activist” in matters Christie approves of is perfectly acceptable (such as denying marriage equality), but the court’s recent decisions on school education and the Council on Affordable Housing are not to his liking. Christie touts Mr. Kwon as an independent, yet for ten years living in NY Kwon was a registered Republican, and only changed his affiliation to Independent when he moved to Closter in 2010. Christie made much of the fact that Mr. Harris is openly gay. However Christie also said Harris agreed to recuse himself from voting on gay issues that come before the Supreme Court if he is approved.
So our governor is acting cleverly but improperly in proposing one individual whose credential as an independent is dubious and unsubstantiated and another individual who as an openly gay man will recuse himself in civil rights cases at the heart of his own identity.
Other questions will be broached during the hearings, including Kwon’s involvement in his family liquor store and Harris’ limited legal experience outside the world of high finance. Regardless, the Senate should reject these nominations. Christie should nominate new individuals who are what they say they are and who do not agree to tying one arm behind their back.