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

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Battle Over Supreme Court Nomination in New Jersey Mirrors Battle for US Supreme Court Seat

New Jersey judges are selected basically the same way federal judges are: executive branch nominates and then senate votes to confirm. "All New Jersey judges are appointed initially to seven-year terms and must be re-nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate to gain tenure until the mandatory retirement age of 70," explains NJ.com.

Much like at the federal level where the executive belongs to one party and the senate majority comes from the other party, NJ's Republican governor Chris Christie faces a Democratic senate. NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney declined to give a hearing to Christie's latest nominee to fill the final vacant seat on New Jersey's highest court. He said the governor is trying to "pack" the bench with Republicans in a heavily Democratic state.

Republican state Sen. Kevin O'Toole said Republicans "deserve a 4-2-1 advantage on the court because a long-standing, unwritten rule that the party of the sitting governor should have an edge.
[Democrat] Sweeney insists Bauman would actually give the GOP a 5-2 advantage because Justice Jaynee Lavecchia is actually a Republican despite being registered as an unaffiliated voter."

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