CHATHAM, NJ - The Senate Judiciary Committee today rejected Governor Chris Christie’s second nomination, Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris, to the state Supreme Court.
Harris’s four-hour confirmation hearing ended with the Democratic-controlled committee voting 7 to 6 against Harris, who was nominated by the governor four months ago. Harris, 61, was the first openly gay and third African-American nominated to the state’s highest court, where two vacancies exist. Christie had not reappointed Justice John Wallace, Jr., and Justice Virginia Long faced mandatory retirement in March.
Democrats questioned Harris, a finance attorney for 20 years, about his courtroom experience and his intention to recuse himself from same-sex marriage issues. Harris said his financial analysis acumen was more important than litigation experience and noted that he would recuse himself from same-sex marriage decisions because he didn’t want his impartiality called into question since he advocated for it in 2009.
Harris, a three-term councilman prior to becoming mayor in January, is the country’s first openly gay, African-American Republican mayor.
Christie also had nominated Phil Kwon, an Asian-American assistant attorney general, who did not receive Senate confirmation in March.