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What's Behind Gov. Christie's Abrupt About-Face on Chief Justice?

After more than four years, the expected battle royal about nominations to the High Court fizzled rather than flamed

Gov. Chris Christie surprised political observers Wednesday by announcing a deal with state Senate President Steve Sweeney to reappoint Chief Justice Stuart Rabner to the New Jersey Supreme Court. In return, Christie will obtain the Legislature’s approval for Superior Court Judge Lee Solomon to join the state's highest court.

Christie and the Democratic majority in the state Legislature have been battling since the beginning of Christie’s term over the makeup of the state Supreme Court, with Christie vowing to realign it to be more conservative. The standoff has resulted in Christie being accused of trying to damage judicial independence due to his refusal to reappoint two of the court’s justices. The Legislature has retaliated by not approving Christie’s Supreme Court nominees.

Why do you think Gov. Chris Christie reappointed Stuart Rabner as Chief Justice, after fighting to remake the court for the past four-and-half years?

  • Just as he said: it was the right thing to do. Christie can compromise with Sweeney in a bipartisan way when it is important. He avoids a constitutional crisis and he gets his nominee, Lee Solomon, seated on the court. What else is there to say?

  • I bet this one hurt -- but he really had no choice. The Democrats weren’t going to back down and he didn’t need this as a sideshow when he’s running for president on a platform of bipartisanship.

  • How many battles can one guy fight? He’s facing scandals, investigations, a budget crisis, and a pension fight. This was one crisis he could make go away.

  • Even though he denies it, the scorn that was being heaped on him by the legal community -- both Democrat and Republican -- had to have an effect on him. He’s a lawyer after all.

  • I don’t know why. Let’s face it, he caved. Tea partiers around the country will be very disappointed, and it won’t help him get the Republican nomination for president.

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