The Republican Governor in New Jersey Chris Christie managed to eliminate the only black state level Judge last week, and appoint a Republican right wing bigot.
TRENTON — New Jersey’s new Republican governor has made his first move to reshape the state Supreme Court, ousting the only black justice and nominating a lawyer with long experience in private practice to take his place.
Gov. Chris Christie made his announcement today, weeks before the end of Justice John E. Wallace’s seven-year first term.
He selected Anne M. Patterson, who is white, as a replacement. If the Mendham Township resident is confirmed by the Senate, the court’s makeup would stand with six white members and one Hispanic in a state with a black population of about 12 percent. Patterson is a registered Republican and Wallace a Democrat.
Less than four months after taking office, Christie seized the first opportunity to leave his stamp on a court he has long criticized for being too liberal. The former federal prosecutor has said the court overstepped its bounds when it legalized same-sex unions, ordered towns to build affordable housing and gave billions in aid to poor school districts.
He vowed during the gubernatorial campaign to nominate conservative justices who would interpret the law rather than legislate from the bench, as he put it.
“I do not believe that sending Justice Wallace back to the court for another 22 months would do anything to change the direction of this court,” Christie said Monday. “In fact, I believe it would just reinforce the direction the court has gone in.”
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner cautioned that the move could inject politics into judicial decision-making.
“Citizens who turn to the courts for relief are entitled to have their cases resolved by impartial judges who focus only on the evenhanded pursuit of justice,” Rabner, a Democrat appointed by former Gov. Jon Corzine, said in a statement to justices and judges that was released to the news media. “Litigants should never have to worry that a judge may be more concerned about how a decision could affect his or her reappointment.”
Even former Republican Gov. Tom Kean, a mentor to Christie, reappointed Chief Justice Robert Wilentz in 1986 despite disagreeing with many of his decisions, going so far as to call one “communistic.”