Harris Nomination To NJ Supreme Court Rejected

TRENTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Gov. Chris Christie’s nomination of Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris to the state Supreme Court this afternoon.

The panel rejected the nomination by a 7-6 vote, which fell mostly along party lines. Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), Vice Chair Nia Gill (D-Essex), Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), Sen. Nellie Pou (D-Passaic), Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex) and Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) voted “no.” Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union) joined Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset), Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth), Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen), and Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) in voting “yes.”

“It is New Jersey’s loss that Bruce Harris has been denied the opportunity to serve on the Supreme Court. His intellect, personal story, professional record, and educational background qualify Bruce by any objective measure to serve on the Court,” said Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R- Union).

If Harris had been confirmed, he would have been the first openly gay man to sit on the seven-member court and only the third African-American.

Although Harris is a finance attorney, he has never appeared in court. He promised that if he were confirmed, he would recuse himself from any cases involving gay marriage. Both issues bothered some committee members.

Earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected another Christie nominee to the state Supreme Court, First Assistant Attorney General Philip Kwon.

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