New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney is vowing to block Gov. Chris Christie’s pick to fill a long-vacant seat on the state Supreme Court.
Sweeney said Monmouth County Judge David Bauman, a Republican, would throw off the political balance of the bench. Partisan balance has been a tradition in the state’s highest court for decades, he said.
“The only way I will consider a Christie nominee is if the governor preserves judicial independence by submitting a Democrat for the court,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester, in a written statement.
The news came just one day after Christie held a press conference in Trenton to announce Bauman as his nominee.
Christie first tapped Bauman in 2012, but the nomination was withdrawn because the state Senate never held a hearing.
Since then, one Republican has joined the court; it’s now made up of three Republicans, two Democrats, and one independent.
A spokesman for the governor called Sweeney’s refusal to schedule a confirmation hearing ” politics at its worst.”
“Today, the Senate president turns 70 years of bipartisan tradition on its head by failing to satisfy his constitutional duty to consider the nomination of Judge Bauman,” according to a statement from spokesman Kevin Roberts.
“He claims that four Republicans would be ‘packing’ the court,” he continued. “Yet … Sweeney sat quietly for eight years spanning Democratic Govs. McGreevey, Codey and Corzine when the court was composed of four Democrats, two Republicans, and one independent.”
Sweeney has said that it is Christie, fresh off a run for the Republican nomination for president, who is politicizing an issue that should remain nonpartisan.
“He’s treating his responsibilities as governor as a continued job interview with the Republican Party in Washington,” said Sweeney.