Kean says Bruce Harris deserves a “fair” hearing

TRENTON – Supreme Court nominee Bruce Harris deserves to be treated better during his Senate confirmation than the last nominee received earlier in the year.

That was the message from Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean (R-21) of Westfield, on Friday afternoon, who called on lawmakers on the other side of the aisle to give Harris “a fair hearing” and that they have “open-minded consideration” during the May 31 confirmation proceedings.

“As a public and commercial finance attorney and a long-standing local elected official, Bruce Harris uniquely understands how the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the State Constitution impacts the citizens of this state,” Kean said in a statement.

Harris, the first openly gay nominated to the high court, comes after the Senate Judiciary rejected high court nominee Phil Kwon earlier this year.

“Unfortunately, the last confirmation conducted for a Supreme Court nominee was anything but fair, impartial, or deliberate.  Phil Kwon was rejected for reasons of partisanship and politics rather than his merits and qualifications,” he said. “The Senate already has one black eye from the Kwon fiasco.  I encourage my colleagues not to further shame this institution and conduct Bruce Harris’s hearing with the seriousness that is required by our state Constitution.”

Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-22), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, disputed Kean’s statement that Kwon’s hearing was anything but impartial, saying, “It was a fair hearing.”

Scutari also said Harris can expect to be treated as an individual candidate.

“He’ll pass or fail on his own merits and performance,” Scutari said Friday afternoon. “These candidates are two separate people.”

Kean says Bruce Harris deserves a “fair” hearing