This will be a battle if the state Legislature sticks to its gun and refuses to hold nomination hearings. Christie wants pro-corporate, anti-worker, anti-minority conservatives on the bench and sooner or later, he’ll get them:
All seven members of an advisory panel charged with reviewing nominations to New Jersey’s Superior Court resigned Wednesday, with six saying they objected to Gov. Christie’s decision not to renominate Justice John Wallace Jr. to the state Supreme Court.
The members, all appointed by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, had letters hand-delivered to Christie’s office.
“The panel has understood a judge serving honorably and effectively, with competence and integrity, will achieve tenure in judicial office,” states one letter signed by six of the members. “This understanding is supported by the intent of the framers of our constitution and is firmly grounded in our traditions and history, and has been followed consistently for over 60 years by all governors of both political parties.”
“You have expressed publicly a profoundly different view of the governor’s appointive responsibilities,” the letter continues. “This was exemplified by your actions and remarks in refusing to reappoint Justice John Wallace to the Supreme Court, a jurist who indisputably exemplified all the qualifications for honorable judicial services. It is a view that is inconsistent with an independent judiciary.
“Because of our abiding commitment to the independence of the judiciary, we cannot in good conscience continue to serve on the Judiciary Advisory Panel.”
The six members were retired state Supreme Court justices James H. Coleman and Stewart Pollock, the cochairmen, and Alan B. Handler and Deborah T. Poritz; a lawyer in private practice, Carlos G. Ortiz; and a university professor, Susan Lederman.
The seventh, retired Appellate Division judge Harold B. Wells III, a Republican, sent a brief, separate letter saying he had resigned for “personal reasons.”
Coleman declined to comment beyond the letter, saying, “We were striving mightily to put enough information in the letter to make everyone understand.”
Michael Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman, said, “The governor thanks the advisory panel members for their service, and we expect to be making appointments to fill those vacancies in short order. The members who resigned are entitled to their opinions, but not everyone shares their views, including others in the judiciary and legal community who recognize the governor’s constitutional prerogative and authority in this regard.”
Christie, a former U.S. attorney, set off a firestorm when he announced in May that he did not plan to renominate Wallace. Critics said the move jeopardized the independence of the judiciary, while supporters praised the Republican governor for beginning to reclaim the Supreme Court. Christie should have the chance to replace at least three other justices in the next 31/2 years.
Wallace, 68, of Sewell, was the only African American and one of only two South Jerseyans on the court. Before his appointment in 2003, the Harvard Law School graduate served as an appellate judge, a Superior Court judge, and a municipal judge in Washington Township.
He became the first justice seeking reappointment under the current state constitution to fail to receive tenure.