Bench Memos

Christie Doubles Down on Dishonesty

On the topic of judges, Chris Christie is apparently doubling down on dishonesty.

Last weekend, on Face the Nation, he denied that he had endorsed President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.  During last night’s debate, when challenged on the issue by Senator Rubio, he repeated the lie: “First of all, I didn’t support Sonia Sotomayor.”

By now it seems like the entire Internet has fact-checked the claim and written it off as a blatant lie.  But, for those who are new to the discussion, in 2009 Christie went out of his way to praise Sotomayor’s “capability, competence and ability” and explicitly said “I support her appointment to the Supreme Court and urge the Senate to keep politics out of the process and confirm her nomination.”

Christie’s support for Justice Sotomayor was troubling.  His record of appointments to the New Jersey Supreme Court has been even more troubling.  So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he is willing to lie through his teeth about both in his pursuit of higher office.

The next president is likely to appoint several justices to the Court, enough to shape its jurisprudence for the next several decades.  We will see new majorities on questions relating to religious liberty and free speech, gun rights, the size and scope of the national government, the role of administrative agencies, and many more. 

As this recent memo from conservative leaders explained, we need a president who understands and embraces the following commitments:

  • Commit to nominating justices with a proven, judicial record of upholding the Constitution. No matter their credentials, avoid nominees with thin paper trails who have failed to publicly demonstrate their unwavering commitment to limited, constitutional government.
  • Commit to spending the energy and political capital necessary to win a confirmation battle. Liberal activists would do anything to block the appointment of justices in the mold of Scalia, Thomas, or Alito. The next president must demand an up-or-down vote for such justices, and support efforts to eliminate the judicial filibuster.
  • Commit to ending the liberal American Bar Association’s preferential role in screening judicial nominees.
  • Commit to reminding the justices they appoint that they take an oath to faithfully support and defend the Constitution, and that their oath continues throughout the time they hold office.

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