Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie Nominee Won't Get Hearing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Christie Nominee Won't Get Hearing

Article excerpt

Governor Christie's latest choice for the state Supreme Court will not get a hearing or a vote in the Senate, Democratic leaders said Tuesday, a move that would kill the nomination.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney declared the nomination of David F. Bauman, a Superior Court judge from Monmouth County, a non- starter. Christie announced the nomination Monday.

"This nominee will not have a hearing and the only way I will consider a Christie nominee is if the governor preserves judicial independence by submitting a Democrat for the court," said Sweeney, D-Gloucester, who controls the Senate calendar and agenda.

At the heart of the standoff is an unwritten rule observed for decades that calls for only a slight partisan edge - a 4-3 split on the high court. The argument now between Christie and Sweeney is how to count one justice appointed by a Republican governor but who is registered as an independent.

Trenton, D.C. similarities

Sweeney said he does not want to change the balance of the seven- member court, which currently has three Republicans, two Democrats and one independent.

His refusal to hold a hearing on Bauman comes as Republicans in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday continued to rebuff President Obama's attempt to nominate a U.S. Supreme Court candidate to fill the vacancy left by the death last month of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Several Republican members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee drew parallels between the political impasse in Trenton and the one in Washington.

"He [Bauman] absolutely deserves a hearing, absolutely deserves an up-or-down vote," said Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth.

"It's not even smart strategy for the Senate president to go down the road this way with what is simultaneously playing out in Washington, D.C."

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the two situations are not the same because the vacancy on the New Jersey Supreme Court is filled on a temporary basis by the senior judge on the state Appellate Court. …

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