Kevin Walsh had been an attorney for just two years when he picked a fight that would help topple the death penalty in New Jersey.
As counsel to New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, he challenged the state’s lethal injection regulations, a battle that led to a 2004 court moratorium on executions and a 2007 state law abolishing capital punishment.
Since then, he has become one of the state’s leading watchdogs on issues from affordable housing to police accountability, driving change in statewide policy with little regard to what powerful politicians he incenses along the way.
Whatever anyone’s objections to Walsh may be, one New Jersey political observer said his delayed confirmation isn’t good government.
“Senatorial courtesy is yet another tool that the very powerful political machines that run our state and control our legislature can use to get what they want,” said Julia Sass Rubin, a professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. “Our state politics are very transactional and with senatorial courtesy, political machines can hold a governor’s appointee hostage.”