N.J. Senate committee rejects Christie nominee for top court

By a vote of 7 to 6, the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday rejected Gov. Chris Christie’s New Jersey Supreme Court nominee Bruce Harris.

After a four-hour hearing, it was a party-line vote with Republicans supporting Harris and Democrats voting against him,Committee chairman Nick Scutari says Democrats were concerned whether Harris had the qualifications to serve as a justice.”This gentleman’s overall legal skills just didn’t seem up to snuff, up to our Supreme Court’s normal standards,” Said Scutari, D-Union. “It just doesn’t reach that and I wasn’t convinced that he was up to the job.”

Sen. Jen Beck was one of the five Republicans on the committee to vote for Harris.

“Clearly you have intellectual capacity, an enormous respect for our constitution, the division of powers, the role of our justices,” said Beck, R-Monmouth.

Only one of the eight Democrats on the panel supported Harris.

Others questioned his lack of courtroom experience.

“There probably are some other people in the state who would be superior, and we should continue to look for that,” said Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex.

Democrats also voiced concerns about whether Harris would be an independent justice because he said he would recuse himself on the issue of same sex marriage.

The 61-year-old Harris would have been the state’s third black justice and the court’s first openly gay jurist.

It’s the second time this year the Senate panel has rejected a Christie pick for the court. First Assistant Attorney General Phillip Kwon was voted down two months ago.  

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