Politics

Christie’s Supreme Court Problem

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

Back in November, I pondered whether Chris Christie was about to make a political comeback. The verdict is still out. But, in the vein of [crscore]John McCain[/crscore]’s 2008 campaign, Christie seems like the type of “comeback” candidate the Granite State might decide to resurrect; he camped out in the state when he was down and out, and earned the New Hampshire Union Leader’s endorsement. 

This probably helps explain why I’m starting to hear from conservative friends in the legal community who worry about Christie. These concerns were summarized in this 2014 column by Paul Mulshine:

Given a chance last month to fill two vacancies on the seven-member court, Christie reappointed Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, a Corzine appointee with the finest of liberal pedigrees. He also appointed Lee Solomon, a political journeyman from South Jersey who turned out to have quite a liberal pedigree as well.

And that’s just the judges who actually made it onto the bench.  As Carrie Severino wrote,

Christie tried to appoint another justice whose views on the issue were even clearer. Bruce Harris — whose nomination was ultimately rejected by the state senate after he acknowledged that he had no courtroom experience — was known mainly for writing a letter to legislators in which he argued that opposing same-sex marriage is analogous to supporting “slavery…”

This 2014 video created by Severino’s Judicial Crisis Network covers some of the same ground:

Christie can probably take solace in the fact that it’s better to be hated or feared than ignored (Rick Santorum wishes someone would attack him right about now). And it’s also fair to say that New Jersey is a tough state for a Republican, and that conservatives probably shouldn’t hold him to the same ideological standards that we might a governor from, say, Texas.

Having said that, this does raise serious concerns. Supreme Court nominations (lifetime appointments) are at least one of the most important decisions a president makes. We all care about national security and the economy, but ideological conservatives care deeply about the bench. And, in that regard, Chris Christie may have some explaining to do.