TRENTON – The New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus announced today that it opposes the nomination of Bruce Harris for the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Harris, who is black, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
“Mr. Harris’ legal qualifications do not meet the high standard required for the New Jersey Supreme Court,” said Caucus Chair Sen. Ronald L. Rice, (D-28), Newark, in a press release. “The nomination of Mr. Harris sends the wrong message – that we can only achieve diversity on the Supreme Court through lowering the bar for qualifications. In a state with many distinguished African-American lawyers and judges, nothing could be further from the truth.”
The Caucus opposes Harris “based on his total lack of litigation or judicial experience and his failure to ever make partner at any law firm,” according to the press release.
Harris, who is gay, has also said he would recuse himself on cases involving gay marriage, and said he had discussed the recusal with Christie.
“It is inappropriate for any potential judicial nominee to make promises on specific cases to the governor,” said Caucus Vice Chair Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-15), Ewing.
“It is doubly inappropriate to commit ahead of time to recuse oneself from a case based on one’s race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Gay judges should be able to rule on cases involving gay people, just as African-American judges should be able to rule on cases involving African-American people, and white judges should be able to rule on cases involving white people. Mr. Harris’ promise on recusal sets a dangerous precedent and only emphasizes why he is not qualified for the job.”
Since PolitickerNJ.com reported earlier this week that the Democrats may reject Harris because of questions surrounding his experience, Christie’s office has gone on the offensive, sending out almost daily press releases backing the high court nominee’s qualifications, calling him “supremely qualified.”
Christie’s office points out that Harris graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College, Yale Law School, and has an M.B.A. from Boston University.
Harris’ hearing next week comes on the heels of the committee rejecting Phil Kwon on March 22.
Kwon was the first high court nominee rejected since 1947. Democrats have raised concerns about Harris’ experience, and if the committee rejects him, Harris would be the second consecutive Christie nominee to be turned down for an appointment to the state Supreme Court.