Bench Memos

Governor Christie’s Supreme Court Nominees

The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee will begin confirmation hearings today for Governor Christie’s nominations of Bruce Harris and Phil Kwon to the New Jersey supreme court. Very little is known about either nominee, but what has been publicly revealed has generated some controversy. A few of my NRO colleagues (Ed WhelanAndy McCarthy, and Maggie Gallagher) have weighed in with criticism for Christie. On the right, most of the attention has focused on Bruce Harris. The National Organization for Marriage is urging Governor Christie to withdraw Harris’s nomination on the basis of a letter he wrote to New Jersey legislators urging them to vote in favor of gay marriage. In that letter Harris wrote:

The New Jersey Supreme court has determined that our relationship is entitled to the equal protection guarantees of the State Constitution. . . .When I hear someone say that they believe marriage is only between a man and a woman because that’s the way it’s always been, I think of the many “traditions” that deprived people of their civil rights for centuries: prohibitions on interracial marriage, slavery, (which is even provided for in the Bible), segregation, the subservience of women, to name just a few of these “traditions.” . . .  And, if the basis of your opposition is religious, then I suggest that you do what the US Constitution mandates – and that is to maintain a separation between the state and religion.

Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity is focusing on Harris’s legal experience and the fact that he is not a litigator. According to AFP, New Jersey President Steve Lonegan, “Harris’ résumé is bereft of any experience in dealing with the Supreme Court on any level. His history is in real estate closings. He has never even written a legal brief or argued a case before the court.” In a press release yesterday, AFP contrasted Harris’s experience with that of the justices currently serving on the court:

All of the justices currently sitting on the New Jersey Supreme Court had extensive experience, prior to their appointments, as litigators in the public and private sectors and/or in judicial service on one or more of the lower courts. In other words, before serving on the state’s highest court, they already had intimate familiarity with our judicial system, and with the types of issues that arise in high-profile cases in our state.

Governor Christie has consistently promised to break the liberal-activist stranglehold on the New Jersey courts by appointing judges who would “interpret laws and the Constitution, not legislate from the bench.” I am hopeful that the New Jersey Senate’s hearings will tell us more about whether these nominees will live up to Christie’s promises. 

Carrie Severino — Carrie Severino is chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network.

Most Popular

National Security & Defense

Leave McMaster Be

About every two months, there are rumors that Gen. H. R. McMaster might be let go as Trump’s national-security adviser (along with many other stellar appointees). The world, however, is a much more logical and predictable place than it was 14 months ago. We’ve restored ties to the Gulf monarchies; Israel ... Read More
Economy & Business

What Kudlow Got Right in 2007

Lawrence Kudlow’s appointment to be director of the National Economic Council has brought out the critics, who have combed through his copious writings to find every wrong call he has made over the decades. One passage that has come in for some ridicule, though, doesn’t deserve it. Here’s Kudlow, writing ... Read More
Film & TV

Love, Simon Outs Hollywood’s Youth Exploitation

Simon (Nick Robinson), the 17-year-old white gay high-school student in Love, Simon, appears to be a comic version of the protagonist in Moonlight. Rather than blatantly copy that Oscar-winning black-gay-victim film, Love, Simon remakes the pathetic Moonlight in the more marketable guise of a sitcom about a ... Read More

Caesar salads, black-eyed peas, &c.

A story I heard about Trump reminded me of a story I once heard about Lyndon Johnson -- the two men have some traits in common. The story about Trump comes from the Wall Street Journal, to wit, In a private room in China’s Great Hall of the People in November, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sat with ... Read More

Don’t Bork Gina Haspel

President Donald Trump’s pick for CIA director is about to experience a good Borking. No one doubts her professionalism, and she’s been endorsed by Obama intelligence officials. Yet Gina Haspel’s long career at the agency, including extensive work undercover in the field, is getting blotted out by her ... Read More