The dispute between Gov. Christie and Democratic leaders about filling state Supreme Court vacancies has become a children's game of tit for tat.
After more than two years, it is time to end the contest. With important cases concerning school funding and gay marriage expected to come before it, the state's highest court needs a full complement of justices.
Christie last week sent the Senate two new nominees: Robert Hanna, head of the state Board of Public Utilities, and Superior Court Judge David Bauman. Calling the selections a compromise with Democrats, Christie asked for a swift confirmation process.
So far, the Democrats haven't signaled their intentions, but Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari has rejected holding hearings by mid-January.
It's every governor's prerogative to nominate whomever he likes to the Supreme Court, and Christie shouldn't be treated any differently. Rigorous hearings should be conducted to determine the nominees' character and temperament, but politics shouldn't determine whether they are appointed.
Bauman, a Republican who was appointed to the lower court by Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, would become the first Asian American on the Supreme Court. Hanna, an independent who worked for Christie when the governor was a U.S. attorney, has been described as a stealth Republican. Christie earlier appointed Hanna to a top job in the Attorney General's Office.
The nominations were an obvious nod to diversity, and a concession to Democrats, who have called for partisan balance on the court. If the nominees are confirmed, the court would have two Democrats, three Republicans, one independent, and one justice whose affiliation is in dispute.
The feud between Christie and the Democrats began with his shabby treatment of former Justice John E. Wallace, an esteemed jurist and the court's only African American member. Instead of following tradition and reappointing Wallace in 2010, Christie vowed to reshape the court with more conservatives to end its "judicial activism."
Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney responded by delaying the confirmation of Christie nominee Anne Patterson, but she was eventually confirmed, for the first time giving the court a female majority.
However, in June, Democrats refused to confirm Bruce Harris, an openly gay African American mayor seeking to become only the third black person ever appointed to the court. The Democrats also refused to confirm Korean-born Phillip Kwon.
Now the gamesmanship must end. It's time to consider the merits of Christie's new nominees, and not arbitrarily dismiss them.