NJ Governor Chris Christie Withdraws State’s Appeal of High Court Ruling on Gay Marriage


Breaking from Bloomberg news:

New Jersey Governor Christie said he advised Acting Attorney General John Hoffman to withdraw the state’s appeal of a ruling allowing gay marriage.

Wrote Christie's administration in the request:

“Chief Justice Stuart Rabner left no ambiguity about the unanimous court's view on the ultimate decision in this matter when he wrote, ‘same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,’" the administration stated.

“Although the Governor strongly disagrees with the Court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the Court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law. The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”


  1. Gregory In Seattle says

    Ain’t it funny how Republicans demand a “vote of the people” when judges rule against them, then screech about the people subverting the legislative process when the vote goes against them, then demand court review when the legislature overrules them.

    They really are pathetic losers.

  2. jpeckjr says

    Governor, courts are a constitutional process, too. We have three branches of government, not just two. The “elected branches” are not the only branches.

  3. candide001 says

    actually, this is clever on his part and bad for us. going through with a trial and having a refutation of the government’s anti-gay animus as well as a favorable ruling on the record would have helped in other cases in other states. he and his nomite advisors know this.

  4. Nat says

    One suspects that this is the out that Christie was looking for. He can make some half-hearted claim about his social conservative credentials while obviating a drawn-out fight that would cost him mainstream support.

  5. Ready says

    Could backfire on him in 2016. I can imagine Santorum or some other tea bag going to the right wingnuts and saying “See, he refused to fight for your values”.

  6. Ted says

    Elected officials? The legislature passed the marriage equality bill, he overrode the wishes of the legislature and vetoed it. He speaketh with a forked tongue.

  7. says

    He read the writing on the wall and doesn’t want the embarrassment of the case going forward, when obviously he was going to lose. So he’s making, as has been the case all along, a political calculation where he says the words he hopes will appease the 2016 Tea Party faction while throwing his hands in the air to make up nonsense about activist courts. In fact, the court did precisely what it was meant to do, and, like our Republican governor in VT in 2009, he will still go down on the wrong side of history.

  8. rroberts says

    “Chief Justice Stuart Rabner left no ambiguity about the unanimous court’s view on the ultimate decision in this matter when he wrote, ‘same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today.'”

    This is the argument that will bring marriage equality to the remaining states. There’s really no way around it.

  9. Jonah says

    “Although the Governor strongly disagrees with the Court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches…” -Man who vetoed a same-sex marriage bill passed by the NJ legislature

  10. NotSafeForWork says

    He’s being spiteful. This would have been great to run through the Supreme Court to have additional case law and authority to be used in other cases.

    Of course, idiots like Christie Kreme never recognize the courts as a valid part of our law making process, despite the fact they are doing the exact job that is expected from their branch of government. The criticisms are exacerbated when court rules against them.

  11. Michael says

    “Although the Governor strongly disagrees with the Court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches” SERIOUSLY?!? The NJ Legislature passed a marriage equality bill 3 years ago and he vetoed it. More GOP revisionist history.

  12. Jack M says

    Christie has his eyes on the Presidency and all this is just posturing so he can get nominated. As usual, selfish politicians trying to make themselves look good to their peers without regard to the country in general.

  13. JohnAGJ says

    I’m actually surprised he didn’t let it play out in the courts. He might have benefitted politically more if he had (I’m thinking if his party base). Or, perhaps he’s hoping to end this now so by 2016 it’ll be “old news” if runs for president. Maybe he sees this as a losing issue nationally unlike in 2004. If that’s the case, wow. Never thought we’d see that happen just a few short years after that damned election!

  14. JohnAGJ says

    Simon – not sure how they do initiatives in NJ but if it’s an amendment to the state constitution than I’d say yes. That is if it actually passed which seems highly unlikely. Of a federal judge could still strike it down based on violations of the US Constitution. I kind of hope that NOM does try a referendum and loses so it’ll benefit us even more moving forward.

  15. Francis #1 says

    I think it’s partially politics, but I do think he doesn’t want a LOSS on the record with the Supreme Court. That would be a big thing, and clearly, he wants to avoid that. Also, as Jonah put it…the man vetoed marriage equality when it would have been passed in 2012. He is a loser, literally.

  16. NotSafeForWork says


    Maybe. SCOTUS decisions on the Constitution can be overturned by new amendment to the Constitution (rare) and decisions on law can be overturned by Congress enacting a new law (not so rare)and by the SCOTUS overturning itself (rare).

    State supreme court decisions could be challenged by voters who could try to pass a new constitutional amendment in the states that have a statewide initiative/referendum process available to the people. For example, Cali’s Prop 8 was a reaction to Cali’s supreme court overturning Prop 22.

    However, NJ does not have a statewide initiative/referendum process. The legislature would have to act to add an amendment to the ballot for the voters to have their say, as Christie crows about.

    In 2006, the Supreme Court of NJ ruled the state’s marriage laws were unconstitutional (Lewis v Harris) and directed the legislature to either create civil unions (they did) or amend marriage laws to allow full access. So, an amendment banning equal marriage in NJ is highly unlikely.

  17. says

    @Simon, I would agree with the others who say a referendum is highly unlikely. Even if it was launched and succeeded (even more unlikely) it would certainly be unconstitutional. NJ is safely in the equality column.

  18. Francis #1 says

    Well, we all clearly know that New Jersey would legalize marriage equality through vote anyway. There is no vote coming. Chris Christie knows it’s over, and likely has known for a while.

  19. Nat says

    “Maybe he sees this as a losing issue nationally unlike in 2004. If that’s the case, wow.”

    I doubt it would be determinative by itself, but when combined with the other social issues for which the Republican Party has proven out of step, plus the ever-persistent empathy gap, it certainly does not help.

    However, I don’t think Christie’s politicking burnished his chances in 2016 either. He is still insufficiently conservative on social issues (despite now being to the right of the American mainstream). I predict the social conservatives will be even more determinative in determining national Republican discourse, even as their power decreases. Their rhetoric has ramped up considerably post-November and it will continue for the foreseeable future.

  20. Howard says

    From a political perspective this seems strange. The republican base is going to go ballistic over this and will never give the 2016 nomination to someone who “cut and run” from this fight. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the long term.

  21. anon says

    He’s gambling correctly I think that this issue will be moribund by 2016 and he’s better off letting it slip away quietly, particularly since he’s looking for a landslide win in NJ in Nov, and fighting this in court will lose him votes, not to mention several left-wing endorsements he’s gotten this year. If you think pols go by “principles”, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

  22. Francis #1 says

    I don’t think this issue is going to be supported by Republicans in 2016 (which is what ultimately matters for him) and I don’t think most moderates vote with this issue in mind. Already, Republicans/right-leaning Independents think Chris Christie is too far to the left to begin with. This adds to that. He’s not going to be supported by social conservatives. The question will be how much it matters with the Republican party as a whole. If they support Christie anyway even with social conservatives barking Christie is a turncoat then that would really be the ultimate death knell to the anti-gay fight, politically speaking.

  23. Craig Nelson says

    Christie withdrew the appeal because he and his lawyers can read the fulsome reasoning of the Supreme Court which simply didn’t buy his reasoning and his way of looking at the issues of the case.

    I must say that, given the NJSC ruling and in particular its unanimity, it would simply have been foolheardy to prolong an appeal with no merit or foothold in the legal facts.

    I think this is the first but not the last state to legalise marriage via the Windsor ruling – a much more powerful ruling than was acknowledged at the time.

  24. Fox says

    As others have noted, it became clear what the New Jersey Supreme Court was going to do. But the conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the opposition dropped this because they didn’t want another strong legal ruling against them as to how gay citizens can’t be treated equally with things like civil unions and domestic partnerships or telling them to go to a lawyer and make their own contract. Other courts do look at rulings from other states, and this one would probably have been pretty strongly worded. – jmho

  25. says

    @Louis: We did indeed win, but appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court was not even an option. Gay couples in NJ can move on by now having the freedom to marry, but it should not be forgotten that the freedom was, until yesterday, blocked by one man with no respect for his state’s legislative process or Constitution. Move on by voting for someone else if you’re a NJ citizen.

Leave A Reply