N.J. Senate committee rejects second SC nominee

Jessica M. Karmasek Jun. 1, 2012, 8:30am



TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - A New Jersey Senate committee on Thursday rejected the nomination of Chatham Mayor Bruce Harris to the state Supreme Court.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is controlled by Democrats, voted 7-6 against Harris, according to The Star-Ledger.

The finance attorney of 20 years would have been the third African-American and first openly gay member of the state's high court.

According to the newspaper, Sen. Brian Stack, D-Hudson, was the only Democrat to vote for Harris.

This is the second time a nominee to the Court by Republican Gov. Chris Christie has been shot down.

In March, the judiciary committee voted 7-6 against Christie's other nominee, Assistant Attorney General Philip Kwon.

The committee had issues with the fact that neither Kwon nor Harris had ever worked as a judge before.

On Thursday, some committee members also expressed concern over Harris' intention to recuse himself in cases over same-sex marriage because of his own advocacy on the issue, The Star-Ledger reported.

"I don't know how people can be critical of him for that," Christie said in a press conference following the committee's vote.

The governor said Harris, who was concerned about the appearance of impartiality, was simply being honest and upfront with the committee.

"I think it's ill-placed criticism," Christie told reporters.

He said it really boils down to party politics.

"I think these are folks who are just looking for excuse to vote against a Republican on the Supreme Court," Christie said.

"Some of these folks have a result they want and they just make stuff up. And I think it's the obligation of all of us to call them on this stuff."

There are currently two vacancies on the seven-member Court.

Justice Virginia Long is legally required to retire from the Court. She turned 70 years old this year.

In addition, Christie decided not to renominate Justice John Wallace.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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