TRENTON, NJ — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is under fire for declining to comment on the Supreme Court's Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision.
Appearing on CNBC's “Squawk Box,” Christie was asked about Monday's ruling, which partially invalidated an Obama administration insurance mandate requiring coverage of contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization. Unlike other potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates, Christie refused to give an opinion on the Court's decision.
“Why should I give an opinion as to whether they were right or wrong?”
In the interview, Christie said he is the first pro-life governor in the history of his state, and noted that his principles “didn't bog me down” when running for governor in New Jersey. In response to a panelist asking him about “taking away the right to choose from women,” and whether “a Republican candidate should run on taking away the right to choose,” Christie said: “The Republican candidate should tell people what they feel on issues people ask you about. If you get asked about it, answer it. That's all.”
However, moments later, Christie was asked about whether the Supreme Court was right in its Monday decision. Christie responded by saying “who knows” before derisively asking, “Is the Supreme Court right?”
“When you're an executive, your Supreme Court makes a ruling and you've got to live with it unless you can get the legislative body to change the law or change the Constitution,” Christie said.
“The point is: Why should I give an opinion as to whether they were right or wrong?” he continued. “At the end of the day, they did what they did. That's now the law of the land, unless the people in the elected branches try to change it.”
“This is the way that you get bogged down in those things,” he said. “You know what? I don't think that's the most central issue that we need to talk about this morning when you look at the challenges that face our country.”
“And if I allow people to put me into that box?” Christie continued. “Then shame on me — I'm not a good politician, I'm not a good leader.”
Christie's comments contrasted sharply with those of other likely GOP presidential candidates and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, said in a statement that the court ruled “in favor of religious freedom.”
“Religious liberty will remain intact and all Americans can stay true to their faith without fear of big government intervention or punishment,” he said. “Our nation was founded on the principle of freedom, and with this decision, America will continue to serve as a safe haven for those looking to exercise religious liberty.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, called the ruling “a landmark victory for religious liberty.”
“This ruling is a repudiation of the Obama Administration’s untenable position that people with sincerely held religious beliefs should be forced to comply with an unconstitutional mandate while a parade of waivers, exemptions, and delays are granted for purely commercial and political interests,” he said in a statement.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the decision “protects the religious freedom that is guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment, and we’re grateful the Court ruled on the side of liberty. The central issue of this case was whether the federal government can coerce Americans to violate their deeply held religious beliefs, and thankfully the Court has upheld the proper limits on the government’s power.”
“The fact that Americans had to bring this case in the first place reveals once again just how intrusive ObamaCare is,” continued Priebus. “It’s a misguided one-size-fits-all policy that not only failed to fix our healthcare system but has trampled on our Constitutional rights. Americans deserve a healthcare system that allows them to make the right choices for themselves, gives them more freedom, and comes nowhere close to encroaching on our First Amendment rights.”
Christie heads the Republican Governors Association, which says its “primary mission is to help elect Republicans to governorships throughout the nation.”
Despite his stated pro-life principles, Christie has been concerning to many social conservatives. While he vetoed a same-sex “marriage” bill in 2012, he did not defend the state against judicial action that led to same-sex “marriage” being the law of the land in 2013.
Last month, Christie took criticism for backing judges who support same-sex “marriage.”