The fight over whether the Republicans can keep the Scalia seat open until the new president takes office

Paul Mulshine in his Star-Ledger column yesterday says, “Of course they can, if the actions of New Jersey’s Democrats are any example.” He cites the fact that Senator Sweeney has kept at least one seat on the court open for some seven years.

In his outrage Mulshine points out that Gov. Christie “even went so far as to reappoint Jon Corzine’s liberal chief justice Stuart Rabner to the high court where he will serve till 2030.” The re-appointment, however, was arranged through a deal with Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney providing that for this re-appointment Christie could fill a seat with Republican Lee Solomon. Here we have a swap agreement between the two parties. In the case of the U.S. Senate there is no swap, just Republicans saying NO to the president.

Actually there is no vacant seat in the NJ Supreme Court as there is an appellate judge appointed by the chief justice occupying it. NJ has a full complement of judges, but the U.S. Supreme Court will be short one member for some time opening up the likelihood of numerous four to four votes which leaves important issues unresolved.

The balance in the NJ Supreme Court remains with three Republicans, three Democrats and one Independent. If an Obama nominee were approved by the Senate there would be [correction: four Republicans (Kennedy was appointed by Reagan) and five Democrats.] similar balance with four Republicans, four Democrats and one swing vote (Kennedy). Fair is fair. Mulshine’s comparison remains unfair.

Comments (2)

  1. deciminyan

    Is it really proper for Mulshine to compare the NJ Supreme Court to SCOTUS? Our justices must retire at age 70, and are also subject to re-appointment after their first seven years. Also, as you point out, vacancies can be temporarily filled with lower court judges. While both courts are politicized, they are in different ways.

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  2. CreedPogue

    I strongly believe that President Obama should fill Scalia’s seat by recess appointment even if he put in Stevens/O’Connor/Souter while nominating someone like Loretta Lynch. It is plain as day that there is no way that Senate Republicans will consent to ANY nominee that President Obama makes. So, you need to work the system.

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