Bench Memos

New Jersey ‘Traditions’

Today’s New York Times editorial on New Jersey’s court-related constitutional crisis perpetuates the liberal mythology that has been built up to protect one of the most liberal state courts in the country. They appeal to “tradition” — the New York Times! — and say that tradition rather than the state constitution should govern who sits on the New Jersey state supreme court. 

This is the New York Times version of the Brezhnev Doctrine — once a court is liberal, it must stay liberal. Well, if tradition is their new holy grail, then the Times should be attacking Justice Wallace, who is actually the tradition-breaker here. The flip side to the “tradition” of automatic reappointment has been for justices who know they are not going to be reappointed to retire gracefully. The fact that previous Republican governors kept liberals on the court reflects their principles, not the New Jersey constitution’s. 

What Governor Christie is doing is exercising his clear constitutional duty and right to nominate justices to the court. It is laughable to argue that he should be bound by a choice made by a previous governor. After all, what if that previous governor had lost reelection because of whom he put on the court? Surely the Times believes in accountability for our elected officials?

Governor Christie has now exposed this liberal charade of “tradition” — as he repeatedly promised to do during his campaign. The Patterson nomination is the Berlin Wall coming down. We look forward to watching more liberal attempts to explain why it should be rebuilt.


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