Christie angers conservative activists with court pick


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). (Tyson Trish/The Record of Bergen County via AP)

Conservative activists are upset with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's decision to renominate the Democratic chief justice of the state Supreme Court, with some suggesting that the matter will hurt the Republican if he runs for president in 2016.

Christie on Wednesday renominated Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, an appointee of Gov. Jon Corzine (D) who among other things has written an opinion clearing the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state.

"I’ve disagreed with him and I’ve expressed that publicly. But never have I thought that he hasn't run the courts in a fair, effective and efficient manner," Christie said of Rabner.

Conservatives were up in arms with the decision.

"The next President could replace as many as three justices on the U.S. Supreme Court and countless appellate judges, shaping the federal judiciary for a generation. Republicans who like the idea of a Christie presidency should ask themselves whether they can trust him to fill those seats with true constitutionalists," said Carrie Severino, chief counsel to the Judicial Crisis Network.

As part of a compromise with Democrats, Christie is also nominating Republican Superior Court Judge Lee Solomon to fill one of the court's vacancies. Even so, his decision to back Rabner struck a nerve with conservatives.

Christie cast his decision as a bipartisan effort that, while not perfect, will strengthen the court.

 

"If what you want from public officials is to shy away from going for better rather than everything, then you know what you get? You get Washington D.C.," said Christie on Wednesday.

He also took square aim at critics, declaring that many of them contribute nothing more than providing quotes to reporters.

"The fact that I'll be criticized by some folks — get in line, man," Christie told reporters. He added, "You know what is common with all of the critics and the ones who praise me on this one? Is they never have to make any decisions themselves. All they are is on your speed dial to get a comment when you need a comment to fill whatever many lines you have in your particular story. That's who they are. That's what their life is all about."

Local conservative activists also chimed in with disapproval over Christie's decision.

"This is disastrous news for taxpayers that will have untold consequences on the state for years to come,” said Daryn Iwicki, director of Americans For Prosperity New Jersey.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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