START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Gov. Christie: Gay Justice Won’t Rule on Same-Sex Marriage

Gov. Christie: Gay Justice Won’t Rule on Same-Sex Marriage

 

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has reportedly said that Bruce Harris, the first openly gay man to be nominated to the state’s supreme court, will not rule in same-sex marriage cases.

Christie told reporters that Harris, the Republican mayor of Chatham, had already said that he would recuse himself in such instances.

From Bloomburg:

The governor, 49, said today that Harris told him that he has advocated for gay marriage personally and as a politician.”

If confirmed to the court, he would recuse himself from that matter because he did not want there to be the appearance of bias on his part on that issue,” Christie told reporters. “My perspective on that issue was to put it aside because he’s not going to rule on that.”

Gay rights groups lauded Gov. Christie’s nomination of Harris when it was announced last week.

Interestingly, the judicial ethics behind whether an openly gay judge in a relationship can preside over a same-sex marriage case was recently tested.

California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that amended the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage, was overturned by federal Judge Vaughn Walker in 2010. Defendant intervenors attempted to have that ruling vacated on grounds that Walker was in a gay relationship at the time, claiming that he had a particularized interest in the outcome.

However, this argument found little favor with District Court Judge James Ware. Ware refused the motion in June of last year, saying that, without explicit proof of bias, Vaughn Walker’s private life is of no more import than the race or sex of a judge, and if it were to be held as such it would set a dangerous precedent for all minority judges.

Similarly a three member 9th Circuit Court panel seemed skeptical of Protect Marriage’s argument that Vaughn Walker had a particularized interest in the outcome of the trial because of his being gay. The panel has yet to deliver its ruling on this issue, however. You can read more on that here.

However, and as mentioned above, it has been pointed out that Harris has a history of actively advocating for same-sex marriage. This draws a distinction between Harris being gay, which would not be the problem, and his having supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, which could be classed as a particularized interest.

This, on the face of it, is a reasonable assertion: that the issue is not whether Harris could rule impartially based on the legal issues at hand, but rather whether he should rule in such a case if public confidence in the impartiality of that ruling is to be maintained. This is, of course, a standard concern for judicial conduct.

Still, some questions may remain. Would other judges who aren’t gay be held to the same standard? For instance, and keeping a narrow focus on the issues at hand, should every judge that has publicly advocated for the so-called “traditional” definition of marriage recuse themselves?

This speaks to larger questions that America currently faces regarding judicial propriety.

Related Reading:

Christie: ‘I am not a fan of same-sex marriage’ (VIDEO)

Closure of NJ Institution for Disabled Stokes Mixed Feelings

Citing NY Progress, New Jersey Lawmaker Proposes Gay Marriage Bill

 

Read more: , , , , , , , , , ,

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Bob Jagendorf.

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

28 comments

+ add your own
5:34PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Christy is taking himself too serious. His time as governor will be remembered by his arrogance, rudeness, and belief in his infallibility.

4:33AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

i'd be more concerned with how the governor of N J is manipulating your tax dollars to profit him with voters. as bad as corzine was he gets lost in the shadow of the behemoth. to an outsider it looks as though our neighbors in N J get tired of paying taxes (tsk tsk) and elect some hocus pocus republican to assuage their burden. after a term or two it's time to bring in a democrat to repair the potholes and the health care system and on-and-on. this costs money, called taxes. as to the judge, it seems, in this article, he has decided he would recuse himself in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety. caesar's wife, and all that.

1:58PM PST on Feb 4, 2012

This makes absolutely Zero sense. Since when can a Gov. tell a judge or the court, what they can deliberate on. So with his "logic"- A married or even a divorced straight judge should recluse him or herself and not hear the case. ... My last sentence confuses me. If they are a judge, hence the word- they should be able to do their job. Christie is an idiot. He does not have the power to tell the NJ Courts how to handle their business..... Bigot.

1:09PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Christie is just bitter that no man or women want him, he is just a gross pig.

11:46PM PST on Feb 2, 2012

He should NOT have to recruse himself at all. His opinion should count and carry as much weight as all the other judges. To not be allowed to rule is discriminatory in and of itself.

2:01PM PST on Feb 2, 2012

I agree with Kaitlin C. It's not Christie's place to tell a court judge what cases s/he can or cannot hear.

And if he is recused because he is gay and in a relationship, then all judges who are in heterosexual relationships must also be recused, along with those who have spoken out against same-sex marriage.

7:53AM PST on Feb 2, 2012

ARE WE TURNING OUR ANGER FOR THE SUPREME COURT INJUSTICES ON RULINGS,
AND THE JUSTICES WHO ARE OBVIOUSLY ALIGNED WITH THE KOCK BROTHERS ORGANIZATIONS IN TO THIS ?? PUT YOUR ANGER, AND FRUSTRATION WHERE IT BELONGS. GET INVOLVED, SPEAK UP TO THOSE WHO ARE LEADING THIS PARADE OF FOOLS. THIS IS AN OLD MAGICIANS TRICK, WATCH CLOSELY WHAT THE RIGHT HAND IS DOING, BECAUSE THE LEFT HAND HOLDS THE KNIFE...

9:01PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

I don't understand? The bigots get to rule?

7:55PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

I don't like the idea of a Governor being able to tell the court what they can and cannot deliberate on. That seems like much more of a conflict than a gay man ruling on civil rights. There should be far more diversity in judges, as it is. He is the only gay judge on the state supreme court, so he is representative of another perspective of the law and should be allowed to rule on any issue that the other judges, who have their own interests and perspectives, do. Otherwise, this is just a case of a politician, Gov. Christie, deciding for his own reasons who and what the state supreme court is ruling on in a case.

5:27PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

I can think of a whole lot of issues that Thomas, Scalia, and Roberts should be recusing themselves from, since they and their wives openly advocate for certain businesses, political parties, and religions.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

ads keep care2 free

meet our writers

Steve Williams Steve Williams is a passionate supporter of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) rights, human... more
Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK

Children

Civil Rights

Education

Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights

Politics

Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.