Christie defends Muslim lawyer he nominated to Superior Court during Hammonton town hall
Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 9:36 PM Updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 9:36 PM
During the question-and-answer session, Christie quickly corrected an audience member who said Mohammed, an Indian-American who has been criticized by right-wing blogs for allegedly supporting radical Islamists, had defended terrorists in Guantanamo Bay. Mohammed actually represented people in New Jersey who were not found to have participated in any crimes, Christie noted.
"If it is disqualifying for the bench to be an Arab-American in New Jersey who represents innocent people and gets them released, then this isn’t the state I believe it is," Christie said. "I’ve known this man for 10 years. He’s a good, decent American and New Jerseyan, he’s an outstanding lawyer, and he deserves the opportunity to be on the bench. I am proud to have nominated him."
Mohammed has yet to get a confirmation vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. His name was first floated for a judgeship during the Corzine administration, and if confirmed he would become the second Muslim state judge.
The rest of the town hall, Christie’s 11th this year, mostly followed a familiar script, with the governor delivering all his usual policy points and laugh lines to a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 700.
He blamed Democrats for inaction in the face of huge problems.
He took Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) to task for the stalled nomination of Anne Patterson to the Supreme Court. He said Sweeney was the man to lobby for a modified school funding formula that would direct more money to rapidly growing suburban school districts. And he said it was Sweeney’s move on legislation to curb pensions and health benefits for public workers, whose plans are heading toward insolvency.
"And the Assembly has done nothing, absolutely nothing, sitting around once again with their heads in the sand, praying for a miracle," he added, referring to an overhaul of the pensions and benefits system. "When the election comes this fall, you need to remember who acted and who didn’t."
The governor said he had not figured out where he would get extra school funds when asked how he would respond if the Supreme Court found his recent cutbacks in state aid for schools to violate the mandate to provide "a thorough and efficient" education.
Christie said the 40-year-old Abbott v. Burke case has directed $68.2 billion to poor schools without any tangible results.
The justices are unelected officials "making laws from the bench," Christie said. "They’re going to decide if they want to order $1.6 billion in additional spending. The problem is, we’ve got no money. The decision we all have to make is, can the Supreme Court of New Jersey order us to raise taxes? Can they order us to cut spending in all the other areas?"