A political standoff between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and statehouse Democrats threatens to undermine the legitimacy of the state judiciary, Dean Roger Dennis said in an article published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 25.
Christie refused to reappoint state Supreme Court Justice John Wallace in 2010, sparking a battle with statehouse Democrats, who regarded the governor’s unprecedented move as political interference with the judiciary.
Leaders of the Democratic-controlled State Senate have yet to schedule hearings on nominees Christie put forth to fill two vacancies on the State Supreme Court.
“It’s a stunning story for the state Supreme Court to be two justices short,” Dennis said. “To my mind, the gridlock on the court has to be resolved soon, or you are getting to a ridiculous point. Image is very important to judicial legitimacy.”
The article also quoted Class of 2009 alumnus K.O. Myers, director of research and programs at the American Judicature Society.
Myers said political battles undermine judicial independence.
“Any time politics becomes the focus of judicial selection, it puts judges in the position of having to play politics,” Myers said.