Christie court pick rejected

In this March 29 photo, Gov. Christie speaks in Manchester, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

For the full story from Friday's paper, click here.

The Senate judiciary committee has rejected Gov. Christie’s nominee to the Supreme Court -- the second time Democrats have turned down the governor's nominee to the high court.

Before that, dating back to the ratification of the state constitution in 1947, nominees had been turned down exactly zero times.

So this is a big deal -- a big moment in Trenton, and a big moment in the Republican governor's relationship with the Democrats who control the Legislature.

Bruce Harris, who walked out of the hearing room moments ago without answering questions, is the mayor of Chatham borough and the only gay African American Republican mayor in the country. He would have been the state's first gay justice, and the only African American on a court that is now all white.

Harris described in his confirmation hearing how his family faced racism while growing up in Iowa, only to find a community in New Jersey that welcomed him and his partner of 32 years.

But Democrats, including legislators who are minorities and gay rights advocates, were not swayed by his diverse background. At the hearing -- which ran four hours, 25 minutes -- they seized on Harris’s decision to recuse himself from a same-sex marriage case that may end up in the high court’s lap, and they framed him as a lightweight attorney unqualified for the job.

Harris has no courtroom experience, and has not published any scholarly legal writings.

Democratic Sen. Nia Gill said: "I believe your recusal was political in order to get what you wanted."

And Democratic Sen. Raymond Lesniak said: "I am not convinced that Harris will be an independent decider on the Supreme Court."

Republicans on the judiciary committee all voted for Harris.

"When I see you, Bruce, I don’t see a black man, I don’t see a gay man, I see a proud American who has done incredible things with his life," said Sen. Kevin O'Toole.

At 4:30, Christie is holding a press conference in which he is expected to react to the decision.

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