In a late Friday order, the New Jersey Supreme Court set up further briefing and argument over the election of Gabriela Mosquera as Assemblywoman from the 4th District in November. The case now looks likely to be resolved after an oral argument before the Supreme Court on next Friday, January 27.
Ten days ago, the trial court, with a judge that was Chris Christie’s first appointee to the bench, ruled that Mosquera was ineligible to serve because, despite a federal court order stating that the residency requirement of one year living in district was invalid that both Mosquera and Secretary of State/Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno relied upon, that residency requirement applied to Mosquera. The Appellate Division last Monday reversed that order, finding reasonably that, because a court order was in place that set down what the law was, and everyone relied upon it, a court could not go back and change the rules after the game. Hours before Mosquera was to be sworn in, the Attorney General filed a brief reversing the Christie Administration’s earlier position that Mosquera was duly elected, and the Supreme Court held off Mosquera’s swearing in in response.
Now, the Supreme Court has stated that it will make a final determination on the matter, on January 27, after all sides have the chance to submit final briefs.
On the merits, this case should be easy. Mosquera relied upon what the Christie Administration told her – that she was eligible to run – and that in turn was based on the order of a federal judge who had considered the same argument 10 years ago. Nobody challenged the Christie Administration’s certification that she was eligible to run. Then she won the election, and her opponent sued.
If the law allows this kind of second-guessing after the fact, there is no real law. If the Christie Administration – or Mosquera’s opponent, Shelly Lovett – had a problem, they should have expressed it earlier, or gone back to the federal judge. But Lovett, and now the politicized Attorney General’s office, has pushed this suit pretty far. We’ll see if the Supreme Court – under constant fire from Christie – bows to his position, or upholds the Appellate Division’s position in what should be an easy case.