Last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered a highly publicized speech at a town hall meeting in Robbinsville, N.J. His speech energized supporters of limited government and Constitutional fidelity and ripped across the Internet. In the speech, Governor Christie explained his recent decision to nominate highly qualified and experienced lawyer Anne Patterson to the state's high court, a move that caused New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney to throw a temper tantrum that culminated in his promise to prevent Patterson's confirmation hearings from happening. Why is Sweeney so upset? Because Patterson was nominated to replace his buddy, Justice John Wallace. Wallace was a liberal judicial activist who had reached the end of his Constitutional term and who had to be either replaced or renominated to a new term that could only last another two years due to mandatory retirement.
None of this should surprise Sweeney or anyone else. Governor Christie promised a bold reform agenda focused on improving the state's deeply troubled economy and resetting fiscal priorities. The fact that he actually kept that promise has angered Trenton's old boys network, which was apparently pretty comfortable with the status quo. Among the promises Christie has kept is the promise to remake New Jersey's Supreme Court on the basis that its decisions, including the Abbott v. Burke line of cases starting in 1985, have put the state on the path to fiscal ruin. (See this study published by the Federalist Society for more details.) As Christie explained last week, "if people wonder why I want to change the Supreme Court, it's because I don't have the flexibility to change the school funding formula if the same people at the Supreme Court who have been making these decisions stay there." Christie continued, stating, "They've taken the power out of the hands of the legislature to make this judgment and out of the hands of the governor and the courts are making it. Well, that's wrong. If judges want to legislate, they should run for the legislature."
We agree with Governor Christie and we applaud him for taking on the entrenched special interests that would use the New Jersey Supreme Court as an ATM machine. One can only imagine the national uproar that would occur if the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a liberal majority of the Court, and not Congress, got to make the nation's most important budget decisions. Well, that is exactly what happened in New Jersey, and the only way to get New Jersey back on track is to undo years of judicial activism and put the power to determine state policy back in the hands of New Jersey's people and their representatives. Three Cheers for Chris Christie for starting that process. We look forward to supporting him with this nomination and the next three he will have the opportunity to make.