TRENTON — Drawing comparisons between his own unsuccessful nomination of Judge David Bauman to the state Supreme Court in 2014 and the ongoing conflict between House Republicans and President Barack Obama over the late supreme court justice Antonin Scalia’s seat, Governor Chris Christie said during his announcement of a second round of confirmation hearings for Bauman that his appointment would preserve “the tradition of partisan balance on the court.”
Allowing that his position on the superior court vacancy did puts him at odds with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the national GOP’s stance on judicial appointments from outgoing elected officials, Christie accused the state Senate of bias. Though he stopped short of making explicit comparisons between himself and President Barack Obama, Christie said that the Democrats at home have even behaving much like Republicans in D.C.
“It’s partisan politics,” Christie said of the Democratic Senate’s decision to run out the clock and decline to hold a confirmation hearing at the time. Christie pointed New Jersey statutes specifying that the court may contain as many as four judges of the appointing governor’s political party and said that the appointment should reflect the tenor of the electorate. Bauman will need to clear the Senate before the end of Christie’s term in 2017.
“The people of the state of New Jersey had a choice for a Republican governor,” Christie said. “This has been a case of absolute stonewalling by the Senate, and it’s unacceptable.
“I hope we will stop this six-year roadblock of filling this seat. It’s wrong and it’s unprecedented and we need to get moving on it.”
The event marked the first time in months that Christie has taken questions from the press at home since ending his presidential campaign, though he refused to answer any questions he deemed “off-topic.” After shooting down questions on the presidential race and his surprise endorsement for Donald Trump Friday, Christie did say that he would not consider using Bauman’s appointment as a bargaining chip in any negotiations over the depleted Transportation Trust Fund.
Bristling at the suggestion that he had hurried back from campaigning for Trump in Tennessee to announce the nomination, Christie took a sharp tone in response to one such question.
“That was Saturday,” he said of his time on the stump for the upstart GOP frontrunner. “Today is Monday. I could have walked back from Tennessee.”