We now know that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has a pronounced tendency to exaggerate in the face of serious political opposition. At this point, nobody should be surprised to find out that Christie has been overstating some of his claims by, say, spicing up his personal role in terrorism prosecutions, spinning his pro-life conversion, overstating the success of new programs to fight drug addiction, or overselling his commitment to upholding the Second Amendment.
As faithful Bench Memos readers know, this sort of thing is nothing new for Christie, who for years has done the same thing with judicial nominations. Although he was all bravado during his campaign, Christie steadily retreated after facing opposition once in office. When he ran for governor, Christie promised to appoint state supreme court justices who wouldn’t legislate from the bench and would overturn state cases that locked taxpayers into a wasteful cycle of tax-and-spend nonsense.
But after years of broken promises, Christie was ultimately reduced to nominating a series of ciphers, liberals, cronies, and hacks with judicial philosophies no different from the liberal judges they replaced. This pattern culminated in Christie’s re-nomination of Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, a judge so liberal and activist that he was rumored to be among Obama’s potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Christie endorsed Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court.) Worse still, all three Christie nominees on the state supreme court joined the activist gravy train for good this year, unanimously voting (even in Rabner’s absence!) to wrest control of housing policy away from the people’s elected representatives.
For a guy who inexplicably seems to think his primary asset is bullying opponents into submission, Christie’s failure to achieve any of his judicial objectives as governor is damning. Christie is either incapable of vetting judicial candidates or just has shockingly poor judgment. Either flaw standing alone would be disqualifying.
The next president may appoint as many as three justices to the Supreme Court. Christie’s record gives us ample reason to question his commitment to delivering on such fundamental issues. There is no margin for error.