The Senate’s resistance to Gov. Christie’s efforts to re-make the court has proven worthwhile. The Star-Ledger reports, through three anonymous sources, that a deal has been reached between Senate President Sweeney and Governor Christie which will lead to Democrat Stuart Rabner being re-nominated as Chief Justice and Republican Lee Solomon nominated as a Justice. Christie probably decided that not re-nominating Chief Rabner would release a firestorm of protest that he does not need now.
There are currently five Justices – two Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent – and two temporarily appointed Judges filling vacancies. Under the above plan Solomon becomes the third Republican, and Judge Mary Catherine Cuff, currently a temporary judge, is the third Democrat. With the other temporary Judge stepping down, the court membership then would consist of 3 D’s, 3 R’s and 1 Ind.
It has been a long and distasteful series of events beginning in 2010 when Christie took unprecedented steps in denying tenure to the respected Democrat Justice John Wallace, and later in 2013 to Republican Justice Helen Hoens, who did not always vote in Christie’s favor. At various times the governor continued efforts without success to add enough Republicans to dominate the Supreme Court. In recent months there were hints that Christie would deny tenure to Chief Rabner.