It didn’t have to be this way.
Governor Christie initially impressed judicial conservatives when he broke precedent and refused to reappoint an incumbent to the court. But his next two appointments greatly disappointed them — partly because neither of the nominees had a clear judicial philosophy — much less an originalist philosophy in the mold of Justices Thomas or Scalia.
Reached by email, Carrie Severino, the Chief Counsel and Policy Director of the Judicial Crisis Network, noted: “[I]f Bruce Harris, [Christie’s] current supreme court nominee, has a cohesive judicial philosophy it is known only to him and (we can hope) Governor Christie. The available evidence is disheartening.”
New Jersey’s supreme court plays what can only be described as an “expansive” role in the state. The Garden State has (thanks to the court) the highest property taxes in the nation. For this reason, judicial appointments were a key issue during Chris Christie’s successful gubernatorial run. Conservatives hoped a Republican governor might gradually change the court through attrition.