Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Patterson Gave Gays and Christie Something to Celebrate

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Patterson Gave Gays and Christie Something to Celebrate

Article excerpt

GOVERNOR Christie hasn't realized it yet, but the state Supreme Court handed him a decisive victory last week. On Oct. 18, the court refused to bar same-sex marriages from beginning in New Jersey on Monday. The Christie administration was appealing a Superior Court judge's ruling allowing those marriages.

The high court had said that it would hear the appeal seeking a stay on that ruling and that it also would hear the case in January. Last week, it ruled unanimously that gay couples would be harmed by further delay and, more importantly, that the Christie administration's chance of winning its appeal in January was virtually nil. The governor should have broken out the champagne if he read between the lines.

Certainly, he has been no fan of same-sex marriage. He vetoed a marriage-equality bill and promised to take his fight against marriage equality to the high court. By Monday, his legal advisers told him that he had been check-same-sex-mated in this game of chess. The governor conceded. Game over.

But this is a huge victory for Christie because when it came time to vote on the most important and controversial civil liberty case the state Supreme Court will hear this decade, it voted unanimously for equality -- all seven justices, including Anne Patterson, the lone Christie appointee on the court.

For more than a year, Democrats have been stalling hearings on two Christie Supreme Court nominees. Christie's latest nominee got a hearing, but no vote has been scheduled for the full Senate.

Democrats claim Christie is playing politics with the court. He is. But so are Democrats. The governor has made clear that he wants his kind of people on the bench, jurists who won't legislate from the bench. I don't know what is worse - governors who legislate from the desk or jurists who legislate from the bench. My observation is that neither happens when the Legislature legislates.

How we end up with messes like the Abbott school decisions that have not resulted in better education in low-income districts is another subject. By and large, New Jersey's Supreme Court is viewed nationally as one of the best -- not one of the most liberal or careless, but one of the best high courts. …

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