Chris Christie’s Justice Problems | VALID | #TWIBnation

Chris Christie’s Justice Problems

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PHOTO: Gage Skidmore

PHOTO: Gage Skidmore

In a nearly two-hour press conference yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie attempted to take accountability for #Bridgegate (or, if you prefer, #Bridgeghazi) while simultaneously sidestepping any lasting blame for it. Christie struggled to explain, through a seemingly endless question-and-answer period, how rogue staff members hid from him their plan to shut down on-ramps to the George Washington Bridge in the town of Ft. Lee, causing a traffic snarl that hamstrung the town for a week in September, 2013. The press corps’ questions increasingly implied that Christie’s staff implemented this plan as an act of political retribution: punishment meted out because the mayor of Ft. Lee (a Democrat) had refused to endorse Christie (a Republican) in his 2013 reelection campaign.

It’s possible that the failure to secure Ft. Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich’s endorsement was the catalyst for the now-infamous “traffic problems in Ft. Lee”. However, Rachel Maddow has an alternate theory: Christie’s retribution was aimed at a much bigger target, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat whose district includes Ft. Lee.  Here’s what we know: New Jersey’s Constitution provides that its Supreme Court justices serve initial, 7-year terms. Thereafter, the governor may re-appoint them for a life term.  Christie was the first New Jersey governor to not reappoint a sitting State Supreme Court justice, and he chose not to reappoint the only African-American member of the Court. Justice John E. Wallace, Jr. had been a respected jurist with no history of misconduct, and when Christie refused to let him continue on the Court,the New York Times called a “national disgrace“. Senate Democrats were incensed at Christie’s unprecedented move, and subsequently slowed the confirmation process for Christie’s judicial nominees to a virtual halt.

On August 12, 2013, Christie declared that he would not re-appoint Supreme Court Justice Helen Hoens, a Republican and respected judge, and also the wife of one of his top staffers. In a stunning display of “benevolent” misogyny, Christie stated that, since he worked with her husband, he felt obliged to end Justice Hoens’ judicial career rather than subject her to the brutality of the Senate Democrats’ confirmation process.

“I simply could not be party to the destruction of Helen Hoens’ professional reputation,” Christie said. “I was not going to let her loose to the animals.”

Christie’s announcement about his decision not to re-nominate Hoens occurred on August 12, 2013, at the end of the day. Bridget Kelly (who can be reached from her new position underneath Christie’s campaign bus) sent her email about “traffic problems” at 7:34 AM, first thing in the morning, on August 13, 2013.  Perhaps, #Bridgegate isn’t just another in the list of incidents that show Christie to be a petty, wounded little man.  Perhaps instead, Ft. Lee’s traffic problems are proof of a highly partisan governor whose misguided leadership ran two good judges off a heretofore respected State Supreme Court.


Rad-Femme Lawyer

Rad-Femme Lawyer is a practicing litigator living in Chicago, and a contributor of legal information and opinions to #TWiBNation, Her professional concentrations are commercial and securities litigation, and she also does pro bono work in special education access and employment discrimination.

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