The news about Christie isn’t all good for conservatives, however. For example, Christie accepted the Medicaid expansion of the Affordable Care Act. He justified approving the expansion by noting that New Jersey’s Medicaid program was already so large that the potential expansion of the program under Obamacare was minimal, a claim confirmed by Politifact. Christie did veto a bill making the expansion permanent, telling N.J. Spotlight that if the terms of the expansion change “because of adverse actions by the Obama administration, I will end it as quickly as it started.” Republican governors John Kasich of Ohio and Mike Pence of Indiana also accepted the Obamacare Medicaid money according to the N.Y. Times.
Many conservatives also do not like Christie’s position on gun control. In 2009, Christie told Sean Hannity that he supported “common sense laws that will allow people to protect themselves” but also favored some gun control measures that would protect police. He noted that the state’s Democratic legislature would not allow easing restrictions on guns.
In the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, Christie established a task force to “responsibly expand New Jersey’s strict gun control measures” according to the Washington Times’ Emily Miller. Christie signed 10 gun control bills into law, including a measure that required the state to submit mental health records to the FBI for instant background checks, but vetoed three others, including a ban a .50 caliber rifles. The NRA hailed the vetoes even though the group rated Christie as a “C.”
On same sex marriage, Christie is also at odds with many conservatives. In October 2013, he dropped the state’s appeal of a court decision striking down New Jersey’s marriage law in spite of the fact that he had previously vetoed a bill that would have allowed same sex marriages. The decision can likely be explained by the fact that previous court decisions made it very unlikely that Christie would have prevailed in court. Additionally, it is clear that the people of New Jersey supported the redefinition of marriage. A Rutgers Eagleton poll at the time showed that 61 percent of New Jersey voters favored marriage for same-sex couples compared to only 27 percent who were opposed. Sixty-seven percent opposed continuing the appeal. Even the state’s Republicans were almost evenly split on the court decision and whether to appeal although slight majorities of Republicans opposed both. Coming right before the election, pursuing the unpopular appeal could have sunk Christie’s campaign.
Christie’s decision to sign a bipartisan bill banning gay reparative therapy is harder to justify. Politico reported that Christie’s note accompanying the bill said that he believed that people were born gay and denied that homosexuality is a sin, a position inconsistent with his Catholic faith. A similar ban in California was challenged on First Amendment grounds and upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in August 2013. At least two lawsuits have been filed against New Jersey’s ban according to NJ.com.
Christie’s appointment of Sohail Mohammed to the New Jersey Superior Court was also controversial. Mohammed is a native of India who immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. As an attorney, he specialized in immigration law and represented dozens of immigrants who were detained in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Mohammed’s career is profiled on Superlawyers.com.
The criticism of Mohammed seems to stem mostly from the fact that he is a Muslim and the fear that he might help to institute sharia law in New Jersey. Some critics also point to his ties with the American Muslim Union which some believe is tied to Islamic terrorists. Of the controversy, Christie said in the Wall St. Journal, “It's just crazy, and I'm tired of dealing with the crazies.”
Speaking of immigration, Republican hardliners won’t like the governor’s history on illegal immigration. In 2008 when he was a federal prosecutor, Christie told a gathering of Latinos that illegal immigration was a civil, not criminal, matter and that, technically speaking, illegal immigrants are not committing a crime by being in the country illegally according to NJ.com. Although he is correct, “illegal [unlawful] presence” is a civil violation, not a misdemeanor or felony, Christie drew criticism from conservatives for the remark. New York Magazine noted that Christie only prosecuted 13 illegal immigration cases between 2002 and 2007, a very low number considering New Jersey’s status as a port of entry the state’s large immigrant population. In December 2013, Politico reported that Christie had announced that he planned to sign New Jersey’s DREAM Act.
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