Judicial elections, democratic appointment (e.g., senate confirmation), and the Missouri Plan (a/k/a "merit selection")

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Friday, March 28, 2014

New Jersey Judicial Selection

New Jersey Supreme Court justices are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the Senate for an initial 7-year term, after which the governor may renominate the justice, subject to Senate consent, for a position until age 70.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

[Chief Justice Stuart] Rabner's seven-year term ends in June, and [Governor Chris] Christie has not announced plans to renominate him. While the Republican governor hasn't said he will remove Rabner, a Democrat, he has spoken of a need to reshape the state's high court, which he decries as "out of control" and unaccountable to the public. Last summer, he publicly criticized one of Rabner's decisions.

Christie previously bucked decades of precedent by taking two other justices off the court, sparking protest from the legal community and legislative Democrats.

In 2010, Christie did not renominate John Wallace, a Gloucester County Democrat and the court's only African American. It was the first time in modern history that a sitting justice had not been granted tenure. Rabner issued a statement to judges saying he was disappointed by the decision. Christie has since repeated the move with a Republican, Helen Hoens.
The Wallace decision set off a war with the Democratic-controlled Senate, which has blocked most of Christie's high court appointments, resulting in two vacancies.

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