Court Ruling Removes a Bump From Christie’s Path

NYT FDKate Zernike 6/10/2015

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Good Wednesday morning from Washington, where House Republicans face a crucial decision on trade and President Obama is making a fiery defense of his health care law ahead of a Supreme Court ruling. But another court’s ruling could breathe new life into Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential hopes.

New Jersey’s highest court handed Mr. Christie a victory on Tuesday when it allowed him to skip the pension payments he promised to make in a signature law.

That means he won’t have to find the $1.58 billion a lower court had wanted him to restore to this year’s state budget, and it will make balancing next year’s budget a lot easier. He can decide whether to run for president, a call he has promised to make this month, spared of any “fiscal crisis” headlines.

The court sided with him against public employee unions, which may help remind Republican primary voters that the governor was willing to take on those powerful interests – a fight that spurred his rise to national stardom. But the decision could also reinforce doubts among Republicans about his fiscal management of New Jersey. Mr. Christie couldn’t make the payments because the state’s job growth has lagged well behind neighboring states and the nation. The missed payments resulted in a record nine credit downgrades.

While Mr. Christie has been selling himself as a straight shooter, the court, despite its ruling for him, didn’t make him seem like a man of his word.

“The loss of public trust due to the broken promises” in the law, the court wrote in its decision, “is staggering.”

Mr. Christie speaks at a Latino Coalition event on Wednesday in Washington. He won a majority of Latino voters in his re-election two years ago and presents that victory as the kind that can help a Republican win the White House. But that was so many problems ago.