Gov. Christie declined Thursday to weigh in on the recent state Supreme Court controversy over a justice's decision not to participate in decisions as long as a temporary judge remained on the bench.
Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto of Haddonfield issued an opinion published last Friday, in which he said Justice Edwin Stern, appointed by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner to serve after Christie decided not to renominate Justice John Wallace Jr., should not participate when there were five other justices available, making up a quorum.
Rivera-Soto, who is up for reappointment in September, argued that Stern's participation is unconstitutional.
Two Democratic senators who are blocking hearings on Christie's choice to replace Wallace, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) and Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D., Union), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have called for Rivera-Soto's resignation.
Christie said during a news conference that he did not comment on individual decisions of justices and that the controversy could have been avoided had the Senate held a hearing on his nominee, Anne Patterson.
"No one can argue that the governor of the state of New Jersey has the absolute constitutional right to nominate justices to the Supreme Court and has no constitutional obligation to renominate a justice to the Supreme Court," Christie said.
"The Senate has sat around now and created this crisis," Christie said. "If Anne Paterson had been given a hearing, I can guarantee you Anne Paterson would have impressed any objective observer.
"We wouldn't be having this crisis if they would just have their hearings and do their jobs," he added.
Said Derek Roseman, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats: "The governor is apparently OK with Justice Rivera-Soto ignoring his responsibility to ensure all residents have equal protection under the law. The governor should not dodge the issue. Justice Rivera-Soto needs to resign immediately."