Last month, a New Jersey state judge struck down Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) $820 million cuts in education because they disproportionately affected low-income students in violation of the state constitution. That case is now pending before the New Jersey Supreme Court.
In an interview with radio host Eric Scott today, Christie suggested that if the state’s highest court hands down a decision that he does not like, he may simply defy the court order:
HOST: In all seriousness, governor, what if the ruling comes down, and [the state supreme courts says] you’ve gotta spend $1.7 billion, and you just say “no”?
CHRISTIE: Well, that’s an option too.
HOST: You’ve considered that? You’ve considered actually saying we’re not going to do it? . . .
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I’m not going to sit here and speculate. Um, have I thought about that? Of course I have. You asked me if I was coming up with a contingency plan. Yeah, there’s a whole bunch of options in the contingency plan and we’ll see what happens.
Sadly, Christie’s apparent belief that the law only applies to him when he feels like it is shared by many of his fellow conservatives. Indeed, the New Jersey governor is only the latest conservative leader to claim that the courts can be ignored — or even punished — when they hand down decisions that the right doesn’t like:
- Court Packing: After the Florida Supreme Court tossed out a wildly unconstitutional ballot initiative attempting to nullify part of the Affordable Care Act, Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon (R) devised a plan that would neutralize three of the Florida Supreme Court’s democratic appointees and give right-wing Gov. Rick Scott (R) the ability to appoint several new justices.
- Court Stripping: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) recently told a gathering of social conservatives in Iowa that Congress should strip the federal courts of their ability to hear marriage equality cases in order to prevent gay Americans from being afforded their constitutional right to “equal protection of the laws.”
- Abolishing Courts: Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich proposed punishing the Ninth Circuit court of Appeals for upholding the constitutional separation of church and state by eliminating that court entirely.
- Justice for Sale: A corporate lobbying group spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to reelect incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser after Prosser allowed them to write the court’s “justice for sale” ethics rules.
- Buying Hate: Anti-gay hate groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars last year to depose three of the seven justices who joined a unanimous marriage equality opinion in Iowa.
- Tea Party Revenge: Florida Tea Partiers tried to depose two state supreme court justices to punish them for keeping an unconstitutional nullification initiative off the state’s ballot.
At the end of the day, conservatives don’t want to live under the rule of law — they want a veto power over any attempt to make them follow the parts of the law they don’t like.