“Judicial Hypocrisy” in New Jersey
May 20, 2010
Paul Mulshine’s excellent item from earlier this week is a must-read for those following Governor Kryptonite’s (AKA Gov. Chris Christie) effort to reform the New Jersey Supreme Court. Gov. Christie declined to re-appoint liberal justice John Wallace to the state Supreme Court — promptly setting all of New Jersey’s judicial activists a-clucking. (I’ve written about this here and here.)
Mulshine, a writer with Newark’s Star-Ledger, chides eight former state supreme court justices for releasing a statement in which they take issue with reappointment powers clearly granted to the governor in the state constitution. Mulshine writes:
“Christie’s action, they argued, would drag the court into politics. If you pay taxes in this state, you’re no doubt aware that our high court has been involved in politics ever since the 1970s. That was when Richard Hughes employed his powers as chief justice to get the income tax he had unsuccessfully sought as governor.
“That and later decisions led directly to the disaster that confronts Christie. And unlike Wallace, [Christie] has a mere four years before he’s up for reappointment. He’s subject to the voters’ judgment. So I was curious to read why Wallace shouldn’t be subject to his judgment.”
Indeed. New Jersey’s constitution allows the governor to deny a justice reappointment to the bench after a seven-year probationary period. That’s what Christie is doing. Simple as that.
The Star-Ledger’s Mulshine continues, taking apart the former justices’ argument:
“‘The eight argue ‘There is simply no question about the intent of the framers of our Constitution: Reappointment would be denied only when a judge was deemed unfit, a standard that ensured the independence of the state’s judiciary under the Constitution.’”
As for what qualifies as unfit, Mulshine quotes this gem from Thomas Jefferson:
“‘I do not charge the judges with willful and ill-intentioned error; but honest error must be arrested where its toleration leads to public ruin,’ Jefferson wrote of the federal courts of his era. ‘As for the safety of society, we commit honest maniacs to Bedlam; so judges should be withdrawn from their bench whose erroneous biases are leading us to dissolution.’”
While it may not be “dissolution,” Gov. Christie certainly believes that the many decisions handed down by the liberal state court have made a mess of the Garden State – and he is bound and determined to clean it up.