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N.J. Judges Cowed By Gov. Christie?

N.J. Judges Cowed By Gov. Christie?


Some New Jersey legislators asked whether members of the state supreme court declined to reconsider a marriage equality case because they feared Governor Chris Christie would not reappoint them.

According to Star-Ledger columnist Bob Braun, state senator Raymond Lesniak and assembly member John D. McKeon, both Democrats, have raised the question in light of the Republican governor's decision to oust a justice in May, citing his belief that the court was too "activist." The legislators believe that the action has caused three nonpermanent court members to avoid the marriage equality case.

"Those members -- Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and Justices Roberto Rivera-Soto and Helen Hoens -- voted against a motion to have the court immediately revisit its earlier decision in the Lewis vs. Harris case that, in 2006 ruled the Legislature must provide marriage-like rights to same-sex couples," wrote Braun. "The court then left the details up to lawmakers and they decided to create 'civil unions' rather than extend marriages to gays and lesbians.

"The three judges who don't have to worry about reappointment -- Justices Virginia Long, Jaynee LaVecchia, and Barry Albin dissented from the order. They wanted arguments on the motion to go forward. Coincidence?"

Governor Christie, who opposes marriage equality, took office in January. That same month, a marriage equality bill failed the state senate by a vote of 20-14.

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