Senate Panel OKs Fernandez-Vina's Nomination to Supreme Court
Lesniak specifically asked Fernandez-Vina to discuss the court's rulings on affordable housing and education funding — two areas in which Christie has repeatedly said he wants there to be a change of course. Fernandez-Vina said his personal views were unimportant.
"Your opinion is important to me," Lesniak replied.
Fernandez-Vina said it would be inappropriate to comment.
"That is so wrong," Lesniak said. "I can't vote for someone who can't give me their opinions on issues." He eventually voted in favor of the nomination.
Sen. Nia Gill, D-Essex, told Fernandez-Vina that she understood why he declined to talk about specific issues, adding that Albin only discussed opinions that he had written.
"To ask about your personal beliefs about opinions from the Supreme Court is entirely different," she said.
Sen. Christopher Bateman, R-Somerset, agreed. "There shouldn't be a litmus test," he said. "It would be totally inappropriate to comment on these issues."
In response to a question posed by Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, Fernandez-Vina said he had not spoken with anyone in the Christie administration about his personal beliefs on any particular issue that may come before the court.
Even though he voted to support the nomination, Lesniak expressed some reservations.
"We should know what his judicial philosophy is," he said. "We do not know what this nominee's judicial philosophy is."