New Jersey’s highest court found itself caught in a political standoff between Gov. Chris Christie and Senate Democrats after the judiciary committee Thursday rejected the governor’s second state Supreme Court nominee in 70 days.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday said one of the reasons they voted down Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce Harris — a Republican who would have been the first openly gay and third African-American justice on the state Supreme Court — was that they want political balance on the Supreme Court.

A defiant Christie responded that he would keep nominating Republicans to the seven-member court that now has only five justices — expecting that they’ll keep getting defeated by Democrats.

“The very fact that Bruce Harris was sacrificed in the name of politics is a dishonor to this institution and once again they’ve smeared a good person, his career, his character and his experience,” an upset Christie said after Thursday’s five-hour hearing. “So for the second time in a row, the Senate Democrats have made a mockery of the process, of the court and the good individuals who agreed to put themselves up for nomination in the name of serving their state.”

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