New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) overall support for 12 civil liberties issues during his first term in office, including LGBT rights, government transparency and judicial independence, received a D+ rating from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, according to a report card the group released Monday.
Christie received the lowest score, an F, on the issue of separation of church and state, for his administration’s decision to approve more than $650 million in state funding to two sectarian religious institutions, Beth Medrash Govoha and Princeton Theological Seminary.
The governor’s 2012 veto of a bill that would have required greater transparency and accountability from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and his administration’s resistance to complying with basic open records requests, also earned him an F in transparency.
Christie also failed to uphold economic justice and the separation of powers in the Garden State, the report concluded, citing budgets that reduced women’s health funding and eliminated funding for an after-school program for low-income children.
"The real concern here is not what these grades mean for Gov. Christie and his administration, but what they've meant for everyday New Jerseyans," Ari Rosmarin, ACLU-NJ Public Policy Director, said in a press release Monday. "From loving couples seeking to get married, to sick patients in need of medical marijuana, to poor New Jerseyans struggling to find an affordable place to live, many of us have not had a friend in the Governor’s office."
While the report praised Christie for signing a robust anti-bullying law in 2012 to protect LGBT youth, it ultimately awarded him a D in advancing gay and transgender rights, hammering him for vetoing marriage equality legislation in 2012.
The potential 2016 presidential candidate's highest scores were a B for freedom of religion and a B- for voting rights.
Christie’s office dismissed the non-profit advocacy group's report as biased in a statement to the New Jersey Star-Ledger on Monday.
"I don’t know, call me crazy, but does anyone think the ACLU could fairly assess anything we do that doesn't fit squarely into its agenda?" Michael Drewniak, a Christie spokesman said.