The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Phillip Kwon’s nomination to be an Associate Justice of the State Supreme Court.
The committee voted 7-6 against Governor Christie’s nominee. Democratic Senator Brian Stack of Hudson County joined five Republicans in voting for the nomination.
Michael Aron of NJTV said that this is the first time in history that the Judiciary Committee has not approved a governor’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
At issue for the Democrats voting against the nomination was Kwon’s family finances, his political affiliation and his work in the Christie administration’s Attorney General’s office.
The nomination of Chatham Mayor Bruce Harris was not heard today.
Republican members of the committee, called the Democrats’ rejection of Kwon a politically motivated “indefensible character assassination.” In a joint statement Senators Gerald Cardinale, Kevin O’Toole, Joe Kyrillos, Christopher Bateman and Michael J. Doherty said,
Today, Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee rejected an exceptionally well-qualified Supreme Court nominee for no good reason whatsoever. From the moment Mr. Kwon was nominated, the Majority engaged in a campaign of intensely personal character assassination centering around issues that were completely immaterial to his fitness to serve on the court.
The Majority’s entire line of questioning and basis for rejecting his nomination centered on events that had absolutely nothing to do with Phil Kwon.
In short, Phil Kwon was railroaded out of sheer partisan animosity toward the governor. Theirs was a rejection seeking a reason. Faced with a nominee whom there was no rational basis to reject, the Majority decided to create one based on the actions of others for which he bears no legal, ethical, or personal responsibility.
If the Majority thinks that its own political ends are what matters in this process, they are mistaken. The only thing that matters is the public’s right to Supreme Court justices that are well qualified, fair, and nominated by a Governor to whom the voters gave this awesome responsibility.
Their petty actions today are a disgrace to the legislature and the people we serve.