A Veritable Dirigible of Diversity

Those of us who bit the metaphorical bullet and pulled the metaphorical lever (it was a button, actually) for Chris Christie in 2009, did so with the fervent hope that at least he would nominate conservative jurists to the State Supreme Court and, in so doing, redeem what we were certain would be a legacy of predictable RINO rule. After all, George W. Bush offered up Harriet Miers – a head fake, perhaps – before gifting SCOTUS and the republic with Samuel Alito and John Roberts. Perhaps Gov. Zeppelin is employing the same strategy? One can certainly hope. Then again: you can hope in one hand and crap in the other and see which hand gets filled first.

Gov. Chris Christie today nominated Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce A. Harris and Executive Assistant Attorney General Philip Kwon for two seats on the New Jersey Supreme Court.

If confirmed, Harris would be the third African American on the Supreme Court and the first openly gay Supreme Court justice.

Kwon would be the first Asian American to sit on the Supreme Court. Harris is a Republican; Bergen County resident Kwon is undeclared.

Neither has served as a judge.

“We should not be afraid of setting an example for the rest of the country,” said the governor.

“While these two men have stellar resumes,” Christie said, they are “historic (nominations) for another reason.” He wants them seated by March 1.

“It is impossible for me to say how humbled I am,” said Harris, an attorney, who thanked his partner, Mark, for nearly 32 years of “love and support.”

It’s one thing to pore over a list of potential nominees culled after vetting the best and brightest jurists – from municipal courts all the way to the Appellate Courts – to discover a pair of glittering jewels among the very best qualified who, mirabile dictu, just happen to be an openly gay, black Republican and a wonderfully convenient Asian-American.

It’s quite another thing to pull what amounts to the perfect political rabbit out of the hat that assumes the form of an Asian-American and a gay black Republican whose experience on the bench is… pretty much…zilch.

An attorney for 20 years, Harris most recently worked at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig and previously at Riker, Danzi, Scherer, Hyland and Perretti. The governor’s office said his work focused primarily on issues of public finance and commercial lending.

Harris graduated magna cum lade from Amherst College and graduated with honors from Boston University Graduate School of Management and Yale Law School.

He was elected mayor of Chatham Borough this past November.

Note that while Governor Christie is on record as an opponent of “gay marriage” who promises to veto any legislation that makes such unions legal, his  efforts to build a bridge to the GLBTG community have yielded fruit, so to speak:

“When I met with Governor Christie in 2010 at his request, he told me that though we would differ on some issues like marriage equality, he viewed the LGBT community as an important part of New Jersey, and that he wanted his Administration to have a good working relationship with Garden State Equality.  That has been the case every step of the way. Since Governor Christie took office, his Administration has treated us with warmth and responsiveness.

Warmth and responsiveness. Indeed.

Admittedly, my response is more visceral than intellectual as I don’t know enough about either of these men at this time to pass judgment on their politico-philosophical inclinations. For all I know, they may secretly emulate Antonin Scalia. If so, then the good people of New Jersey will have finally caught a lucky break in the form of a Supreme Court majority willing to overturn the atrocious Abbott Ruling – a first step to restoring sanity in the Garden State.

That said, I’m cynical enough to believe that cynical motivations underlie these nominations. This whole episode is redolent with the stench of political pandering and one doesn’t have to search too far to see what Governor Zeppelin is up to:  assuming this this whole episode isn’t a huge Harriet Miers-style head fake and further assuming that Mr. Harris is a stealth advocate of “gay marriage,” all that’s necessary to impose it on the people of New Jersey is a bare majority of the Supreme Court, led by none other than… Associate Justice Harris.

Gov. Christie could then wash his hands and declare that, while he opposes “gay marriage” and even vetoed the legislation, he has no control over the Supreme Court: Curia locuta est…causa finita est. (The court has spoken…the matter is settled.)

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