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Reaction To The Senate Judiciary Panel’s Phillip Kwon Decision

Reaction to the Senate Judiciary Panel’s vote rejecting Phillip Kwon’s nomination to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Senate President Steve Sweeney

Senate President Steve Sweeney
Senate President Steve Sweeney (D)

“The governor may be entitled to his own nominees for cabinet posts, but we will not allow him to pack the Supreme Court.

“There are still two open seats. The governor talks often of how ‘elections have consequences.’ For him, the consequence of the people electing a Democratic Legislature concerned with protecting the integrity of our legal system is now clear. The governor must work with us to put together a balanced tandem of candidates for the Court. The Senate will not consider anything less.”


Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg

Flickr User Paul Lowry

“What the Governor failed to understand is that the Senate Judiciary Committee has a serious responsibility in confirming nominees to the state’s highest court. This is a responsibility we take seriously.

“The court has a tradition and history of partisan balance and ideological fairness that the Governor seems intent on violating. He has a record of attacking the courts and denigrating judges when he disagrees with their decisions and he’s made no secret of his desire to reshape the Supreme Court to his own liking. It’s not Chris Christie’s court, it’s the New Jersey Supreme Court.

“The state would be ill served for generations to come if he is allowed to pack the court with ideological judges with an agenda that would turn back the clock on mainstream values. He can’t be allowed to turn the New Jersey Supreme Court into a political entity for the sake of his political agenda.”

Senator Jennifer Beck

Jennifer Beck (R)

“Yesterday’s vote was a shaming and embarrassing display of political partisanship. It was not a hearing, but a personal butchering of a man who was ultimately qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice. This is the first time, since the 1947 Constitution, that a Governor’s Supreme Court nominee has been rejected. Mr. Kwon is an outstanding member of the bar, an exceptional attorney and would have been an asset to the Bench. Instead of addressing the credentials of the nominees, the Democrats chose to publicly interrogate Mr. Kwon about his family’s legal issues in which he had NO involvement. This was a clear cut case of guilt by association, Mr. Kwon’s rejection was decided even before the first question was asked. The Democrats held Mr. Kwon accountable for the actions of others instead of addressing his qualifications for the position.

“By rejecting Mr. Kwon this way, the Democrats have sent the message to all of New Jersey that business-as-usual is okay with them and partisanship comes before progress.

As a former member of the Judiciary Committee, I am truly disappointed and distraught over this blatantly political vote, this was a sad charade. Mr. Kwon was qualified, capable and honored to just be nominated, but he was the victim of politics at the hands of a Democrat majority that would rather dig their feet in the ground than do the right thing. After a year that saw historic bipartisan reform, this action is a huge step in the wrong direction.”

Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean,Jr.

Tom Kean

What occurred today in the Senate Judiciary Committee today was, in a word, wrong.

A very well qualified nominee for the Supreme Court, who has spent his career in service to our state and our country prosecuting public corruption and violent crime, was rejected by Senate Democrats out of sheer partisanship. That rejection involved an unprecedented campaign of character assassination, innuendo, and outright fabrication of fact.

It is New Jersey’s loss not only that this individual will not be seated on our highest court, but that the peoples’ Senate could not be counted on to judge Mr. Kwon based on his merits instead of purely political considerations.


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