Is Chris Christie's Supreme Court War With Democrats Behind Bridgeghazi?

Could Christie's years-long fight with state senate Democrats over Supreme Court justice appointments be the real reason why his staff shut that bridge down? Rachel Maddow is on the case.

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The assumed reason for Bridgeghazi is that Fort Lee's mayor refused to endorse Chris Christie for governor, and the lane closures were meant to punish him. But, as many have pointed out, Christie was a shoo-in to win the election and didn't even ask the mayor for his endorsement -- not to mention several other mayors didn't endorse Christie and none of their towns were stuck in traffic for four days. What gives?

Well, Rachel Maddow posited a new theory -- and it is just a theory -- on her show tonight: that a long-running feud between Christie and state senate Democrats about Supreme Court justice appointments may have been the real reason for Bridgeghazi (you'll want to skip to 11:30 -- before that, it's just Maddow over-explaining Bridgeghazi several times):

So we've got Christie refusing to renominate a Democratically-appointed Supreme Court justice to a lifetime tenure in 2010 in an unprecedented move. State senate Democrats were outraged and threatened to refuse to confirm any of Christie's future Supreme Court appointments. For the most part, they've stuck to their guns.
Things have been tense. They still are, actually -- just a few days ago, Christie had to withdraw yet another nominee after Democrats refused to confirm him. The New Jersey Supreme Court has only five justices right now. It's supposed to have seven.

On August 12 of last year, Christie announced that he would not renominate another Supreme Court justice -- this time, he said, it was because he didn't want Helen Hoens (who is married to a Christie staffer) to face Senate Democrats who he said would destroy her reputation.

"I was not going to let her loose to the animals," Christie said. Later, he added: "What the ramifications would be for that going forward, [Senate Democrats] should have thought about before opening their mouths."

The very next morning, Bridget Anne Kelly emailed David Wildstein with "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

As Maddow points out, Fort Lee's senator is Loretta Weinberg. She's a Democrat and she's also the Senate majority leader. Oh, and Christie once urged reporters to "take a bat to" her back in 2011, so there's no love lost between them.

Could those promised "ramifications" be the real reason for Bridgegate? It's just a theory, but the timing certainly is suspicious.

Incidentally, that first court justice Christie refused to renominate, which started all of this? He's now the chairman of New Jersey's Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.