New Jersey Governor Christie Picks Gay Black Man, Asian For Top Court

By Robin Rieger

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie moved to diversify the state’s all-white Supreme Court on Monday by proposing two firsts: the nominations of an openly gay black man and a Korean-born law enforcer to fill two vacancies.

Christie announced the nominations at a Statehouse news conference attended by both nominees and their families. If confirmed, Bruce A. Harris would become New Jersey’s first openly gay justice, and Phillip H. Kwon would become its first Asian representative and the first person born outside the United States to be sworn in.

“I am proud to be standing here today to announce two historic nominations to the New Jersey State Supreme Court,” Christie said, expressing “extreme confidence in their records and respect for their intellect.”

The nominations require confirmation from the Senate.

Harris, 61, is the mayor of Chatham Borough in Morris County, a post Christie said he would give up if confirmed. He would be the third African-American to be seated on the court. His partner of 32 years, Marc Boisclair, attended the announcement.

“I also want to thank my partner Mark for his nearly 32 years of love and support,” said Harris.

“Bruce will join a historic group of justices across the country as the 7th openly gay State Supreme Court Justice if he is confirmed,” said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Steven Goldstein, chairman of the state’s gay rights group, Garden State Equality, praised the choice. Goldstein said he was surprised by the announcement, but said the Christie administration has always treated gay community leaders with “warmth and responsiveness.”

Kwon, 44, works in the Attorney General’s Office and lives in Closter in Bergen County.

He has worked with Christie for a decade; he was deputy chief of the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office while Christie headed it. There he worked on corruption cases, including those of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski.

He is a 1994 graduate of Rutgers University Law School and received his undergraduate degree in 1989 from Georgetown University. His wife and son attended the announcement.

“This is a deep honor for me and my family,” said Phillip Kwon.

“Not only do their different backgrounds and career paths bring distinctive and important perspectives to the court, Bruce and Phil also capture our states diversity,” said Christie.

We sampled opinions from residents.

“I think it’s about qualifications, not about sexual preference or race”, said Bob Gardiner of Lawrenceville.

“I think it’s very important, because it’s a melting pot. Everybody needs the same equality,” said Sheila Adams, of Trenton.

Christie has two vacancies to fill on the court as of March 1.

The current court, made up of five women and two men, all of whom are white.

However, New Jersey has one of the highest percentages of foreign-born residents in the nation, with about one of five residents being born outside the country, according to the U.S. Census.

Christie created a firestorm when he decided not to renominate the court’s only black member, Justice John Wallace, in 2010.

His nominee to replace Wallace, corporate lawyer Anne Patterson, was finally confirmed last year after waiting a year because the Senate refused to consider any high court nominee as a protest.

Like Patterson, Harris was once at the prestigious Morristown law firm of Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a Washington D.C., group that supports political campaigns of gay candidates, said the first two gay
Supreme Court justices were both in Oregon. Rives Kistler was appointed to the bench in 2003 and elected to a full term the next year.
Virginia Linder was elected in 2006.

Victory Fund spokesman Dennis Dison said all four others have been sworn in since 2010. They are: Barbara Lenk in Massachusetts, Sabrina McKenna in Hawaii, Monica Marquez in Colorado and Beth Robinson in Vermont. Robinson was previously the leader of a statewide gay rights group, Vermont Freedom to Marry.

Dison said his group helped Harris last year in his mayoral campaign, and that he is one of the few openly gay black Republican mayors in the nation.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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One Comment

  1. rbcintexas says:

    Christie has done major damage in his political career with these appointments. How could he ever appoint someone who is not a natural citizen to such a prominent position. Yes we have people that live here that were born elsewhere but when it comes to things of such high importance, it should be left to natural born citizens where there is no doubt as to their alliance. I know it sounds stupid with so many America hating Liberals out there but we must try to limit the damage.

  2. Wise One says:

    Christie proved he’s a flake who should never be considered for the highest office in the land.

  3. RINO Christie says:

    RINO couldn’t fit a transvestite in there somewhere too?

  4. seenoland@gmail.c says:

    We’re all sure he nominated them for “the content of their Character”

  5. David Rodden says:

    Are they the Most qualified for the positions???Is Christy another Pandering RINO???

  6. Another Jean says:

    It’s discouraging to read the torrent of bigotry poured out here. This is a diverse planet and a diverse country. There is nothing wrong with that, and it’s plain weird that so many of you think that everyone has to be exactly like you. White, black, Asian, male, female, gay, straight – we are all PEOPLE. Enough with the ignorance and hate, already!

  7. Sean says:

    Unless you’ve been following the battle for the Supreme Court for the last two years, you’d have no idea why what Christie did today was brilliant. He FORCED a Liberal Democrat (Wallace) off the bench (his right, though never done by any previous Governor), so no matter who he picked to replace him, the Senate was going to tie it up for months for revenge. And we would have had NO Conservatives on the NJSC (other than Patterson). So he just threw two people in the Democrats’ faces that they absolutely CAN NOT delay, without looking like bigots. So now two Conservatives will get on, replacing African American Liberal Wallace and Latino Moderate Rivera-Soto. Christie is not a “quota guy”, but sometimes you have to play the game. And NJ gets two Conservatives without the Democrats saying “boo”.

  8. NowSwimBack says:

    Romney or Gingrich will name him as VP.

  9. Sam E Moore Jr says:

    Why not a Business Women or Mother and someone who had served their Country ?
    Odd Balls does not mean DIVERSITY … IT means off the Wall Decisions like the often over turned Federal 9Th, District Court in San Fran.

  10. Tammy Terrell says:

    Well, why must he be black and gay to make it diverse? Why not select the most qualified man or woman based solely on their qualifications?

  11. rufus levin says:

    what no crippled fat transgender women?

    1. Jeffrey E. says:

      That’s after Newt wins Florida Rufus…

  12. Tommy says:

    There is NO such thing as a gay conservative and Mitt Romney just maybe lost my vote. Gov Christie introduced Mitt and I thought Christie was a Republican. These people are sick. Where do they come up with “gay conservative,” just what in the heck is that? One word, gross.

    1. Barbara says:

      A substantial number of people who identify as conservatives are fiscally conservative, but not necessarily socially conservative.

    2. SerfCityHereWeCome says:

      Actually, I know a family acquaintance who is both VERY conservative and VERY gay, albeit very ashamed of it, so you never know…although there’s no doubt it’s very rare.

    3. bacboris says:

      You can be a minority (Gay, Jewish, Black, etc.) and still support a society based on Traditional American and Christian Values. What individuals chose to do in their own homes, should be the business of no one else so long as they don’t harm anyone.

      For the record, I’m not gay and am honest enough to admit that their lifestyle creeps me out a little. But your harangue shows that you’re not a conservative just a Fascist. People should be judged on their principles and virtue not on how much they give you the heebie jeebies for what they do in the privacy of their own homes.

  13. Clifford Hustable says:

    Oh no minorities!!! Why are people complaining about this, are you really that scared of gays and Koreans

    1. Tommy says:

      What do gays have to do with being conservative? Its time for them to get back in the dang closet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Christopher Minick says:

      Why do you think? Jobs should be based on merit, not quotas. Simple as that.

      1. Barbara says:

        That’s one of the unintended consequences of affirmative action. We should be able to assume that these men were selected solely on the basis of their qualifications. But Christie himself is playing up the racial/sexual preference angle. Most unfortunate.

  14. Mark Matis says:

    About what I expect from Governor Christie. And let me assure you, that is NOT a compliment.

  15. Alicia Ruiz says:

    READ THE ARTICLE before jumping in with knee jerk reactions

    They are both CONSERVATIVE, this is a good thing.

  16. John Sheridan says:

    Any of you conservatives still sorry this clown wouldn’t run? It’s one thing if you pick the best person for the job, but quite another when the pick is based on affirmative action.

    1. teddyd49 says:

      YOU are absolutely RIGHT on this score… do you spell RINO??????

  17. Morefandave says:

    Did it even occur to any of the people who are all over Christie for being a turncoad, liberal in disguise, etc. that maybe, just maybe he made the appointments on the basis of their merit and judicial philosophy, and that their ethnicity and gayness were irrelevvant?

    1. Douglas Wakeman says:

      Then, why does he bring it up?
      ““Not only do their different backgrounds and career paths bring distinctive and important perspectives to the court, Bruce and Phil also capture our states diversity,” said Christie.”

    2. Barbara says:

      I would certainly hope that the appointments were based on merit, but it is Christie who is making such an issue of ethnicity and sexual preference. If he was appointing them based solely on their qualifications, he shouldn’t have found it necessary to comment on any superficial non-job related characteristics.

  18. darka says:

    Thank God Chris Christ is not running for president. It shows the true color, rainbow and also shows that he is not a true Republican. Liberals are trying to high-jack the conservative party. I pray that people will start recognizing this is what they are and they infiltrate the very fiber of American society,destroying it.

    1. Drew says:

      Oh Jesus, help us! There’s diversity in a political party. What is this world coming to?! You are a waste of oxygen.

    2. me says:

      What kind of drugs are you on?
      The only “liberal” trying to hi-jack the R party is Ginrich. He said the best President of the 20th century was the FDR, not Reagan. And that “FDR was a great Progressive”.

  19. Matthew Dunnyveg says:

    Stories like this are just heart-warmingly Politically Correct. It shows Political Correctness isn’t just for leftists anymore.

    Maybe Christie will replace the entire population of his state with gay blacks and Koreans. After all, there are entirely too many Americans running around acting like Americans and being un-diverse. Something needs to be done. Maybe Christie will save us from ourselves…..

  20. Randolph says:

    I guess he’s a r(h)ino in two ways…

  21. Gary Johnson says:

    Why didn’t he just find a gay black Korean and solve all his problems with one pick…?

    1. david merritt says:

      Now that’s funny.

  22. Alicia Ruiz says:

    A conservative gay aftican american and a conservative asian. I don’t understand why people are upset by this.

    1. Gary Johnson says:

      They are both conservative?…..o.k……never mind…..

    2. Barbara says:

      I don’t find the appointments upsetting at all, presuming that they were made based on merit. But I find Christie’s posturing cringeworthy.

  23. jpct says:

    Christie’s letting his hair down? Where are the heroes anymore?

  24. Sick of NJ says:

    Wow, this guy is the most liberal conservative I’ve ever seen. How in the world did this guy get in the Republican party? He might as well join Obama in the White House.

    Of course the 95% liberal base of NJ probably loves this move (along with high taxes, big government and the eternal list of regulations the liberals keep putting on the residents). Chris Christie is really no friend to the conservatives and the moderates. I won’t vote for him again.

  25. JMA says:

    I wonder if Ann Coulter is still in love with him and Romney after this?

  26. gx says:

    I really hope the list of qualifications werent:

    Gay :: Check
    Black :: Check
    Asian :: Check

    Their race, or sexuality should have nothing to do with if their qualified for the bench, should have to do with solely whether or not they interpret law correctly based on the constitution and stick to constitutional principals and nothing more. Not even sure what being black, gay or Asian have anything to do with anything

  27. Hedley Lamar says:

    I guess Christie doesn’t know gays are militant radical liberals. Wait! I was told he was presidential material. Guess not.

  28. zjak says:

    Wow the first Conservative gay African American Justice, hey Romney might appoint him to the SCOTUS if he becomes President. I am all for it man. Good job Christie.

  29. Jefferson John says:

    And Christie should tell us who to vote for?

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