Chris Dickerson Dec. 11, 2012, 5:39pm

TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday formally nominated two men to the state Supreme Court.

Christie, a Republican, nominated David Bauman and Robert Hanna to the seven-member court.

"These are two men whose careers are marked by a commitment to public service and dedication to the law that gives both of them unique perspectives and great opportunity to make a major contribution to the New Jersey Supreme Court," Christie said in announcing the nominations.

Bauman, 56, is the presiding judge of the Monmouth County Superior Court judge from Holmdel. If nominated, he would be the first Asian-American on the Court.

Hanna, 54, is the president of the state's Board of Public Utilities. He has been visible in recent weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He was a federal prosecutor for 16 years, which overlapped Christie's stint as a U.S. Attorney.

Christie has faced criticism from state Senate Democrats, who rejected his last two Court nominees earlier this year. The Star-Ledger reported that Christie said the pair should satisfy Democrat concerns.

In a statement, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat, said, "The governor has made his nominations, as is his right. At this point in time, however, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further."

Bauman, 56, who was born in Japan, thanked Christie as his family looked on from front-row seats at the Statehouse news conference.

"Service on the highest court is an extraordinary honor," Bauman said at the press conference. "It's also a solemn obligation, which I promise to discharge to the best of my abilities should I be privileged enough to be confirmed.

"If confirmed I will discharge my duties without fear or favor, my fidelity will be to the law, to the noble and enduring cause of justice and to the people of the state of New Jersey."

Earlier this year, Christie named Philip Kwon and Bruce Harris as his nominees. Kwon, who was born in Korea, was once an assistant state attorney general. Harris is the gay African-American mayor of Chatham.

The Senate Judiciary Committee wouldn't vote for either. So, the seven-member court has had only five justices since March.

Christie said he feels more confident about the newest selections.

"I don't really know what more they can ask for at this point," he said at the press conference. "No one, and I mean no one, could possibly doubt the qualifications of these two men."

Last week, a survey released by the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance said the state's "hostile business climate" can be attributed to recent "outrageous lawsuits" and state Supreme Court vacancies.

The survey, conducted by the Rutgers-Eagleton Institute for the NJLRA, found that nearly 75 percent of small businesses say it is "very important" that Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey state Senate fill vacancies on the state Supreme Court.

"The New Jersey Supreme Court is crucial to our state's economy," NJLRA Executive Director Marcus Rayner said in a press release. "New Jersey's business community is telling us loudly and clearly that vacancies on the state's highest court are a leading concern.

"As New Jersey's small businesses recover from a sluggish economy and added devastation from Hurricane Sandy, cost drivers like liability insurance and the threat of frivolous litigation only add to business concerns, which can be heavily influenced by court decisions."

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