Gov. Chris Christie Nominates Latino To New Jersey Supreme Court

Gov. Chris Christie, who has battled the Democrat-controlled state Senate over Supreme Court nominations, has picked a county judge who, if confirmed, would be only the second Latino in New Jersey history to serve on that bench.

Christie said Monday that he was nominating Camden County Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina, a Cuban-born Republican who was confirmed unanimously by the Senate for the Superior Court.

The governor said that Fernandez-Vina was an example of the American Dream, according to

Christie said he would not renominate fellow Republican Supreme Court Justice Helen Hoens because Democrats indicated they won't approve her for lifetime tenure. Hoens' seven-year term expires in September.

Christie decided not to drag Hoens into his ongoing fight with Democrats over Supreme Court nominees.

The Senate has failed for eight months to act on two other Supreme Court nominees.

Christie said he pulled Hoens' nomination after hearing Democrats aren't finished exacting retribution over his failure to reappoint Justice John Wallace for tenure in 2010.

Hoens said she was saddened she can't continue on the court but thankful for having had the opportunity to serve New Jersey.

Fernandez-Vina, who is 62, is a graduate of Widener University and Rutgers University School of Law-Camden. He served as a law clerk to Superior Court Judge E. Stevenson Fluharty before going into private practice.

The first Latino to serve on the state Supreme Court was Roberto Rivera-Soto, who decided not to seek renomination in 2011 after he drew criticism for announcing that he would refrain from rendering decisions on the bench as a form of protest over the presence of a temporary judge on the bench. The temporary judge had been assigned after Christie, breaking with precedent, who refused to reappoint another judge to the High Court.

The New Jersey Hispanic Bar Association then expressed concern that the state Supreme Court would be left with no Latinos.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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