New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he wants to put the first-ever Asian-American and an openly gay justice on the state’s Supreme Court, after denying tenure for the bench’s only black member.
Bruce Harris, 61, a Republican and mayor of Chatham, would be the first openly gay justice and the third black to sit on the high court. Phil Kwon, 44, who isn’t registered as a member of any party, would be the first Asian-American and the first immigrant, Christie, a Republican, said today at a press conference in Trenton.
“Not only do their different backgrounds and career paths bring distinctive and important perspectives to the court, Bruce and Phil also capture our state’s diversity,” Christie said. “This is an important moment in our state’s history and our country’s history that signals how far we’ve all come.”
Kwon, who was a resident of Korea and is a resident of Closter, is currently first assistant Attorney General and previously worked with Christie in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He holds degrees from Georgetown University and Rutgers Law School. Neither nominee has served as a sitting judge, Christie said.
The nominations need approval from the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. Sweeney, a West Deptford Democrat, held up Christie’s May 2010 Supreme Court nomination of Anne Patterson for a year, saying the governor’s unprecedented move to deny tenure to a sitting Supreme Court justice, John Wallace, had politicized the court.