New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said the Senate’s rejection last week of Phillip Kwon, his nominee for the state Supreme Court, was a “disgrace” and he hasn’t selected a replacement.
A confirmation hearing on his candidate for a second opening on the high court, Bruce Harris, the Republican mayor of Chatham, hasn’t been scheduled yet, Christie said. Harris would become the first openly gay justice, if confirmed.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-6 along party lines March 22 to turn down Kwon, who would have been the first Asian-American on the court. Democrats questioned a $160,000 settlement of U.S. government allegations that family members sought to avoid financial reporting requirements tied to their business.
Kwon told the panel he wasn’t involved in his mother’s business, and said he cautioned her about reporting rules and helped her get a lawyer. He was the first nominee for the high court to be rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee since at least 1947, according to Winnie Comfort, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey courts.
“I didn’t have a Plan B, so we’re going to have to go back and review those candidates we’ve already vetted,” Christie, 49, a first-term Republican, said in his monthly “Ask the Governor” appearance on WKXW-FM radio in Ewing. “It has to be done, but I won’t do it in a rushed fashion.”
Committee members said they were concerned that Kwon, presented as an unaffiliated voter, was formerly a Republican in New York and was part of a plan by Christie to stack the court in his party’s favor.
Christie had said that if Kwon and Harris were confirmed, the balance would have been three Republicans, two Democrats and two independents.