Tag Archive: Stuart Rabner

Christie’s Supreme Blunders Benefit New Jersey Residents

A right-wing group called the Judicial Crisis Network is running an attack ad (below) that paints Chris Christie as one who appoints liberal justices to the state Supreme Court. And although the video is full of hyperbole, factual error, and conservative catch phrases, it is not entirely wrong. Christie’s actions on the Supreme Court are just one more broken election promise, although one that turns out to be good for the people of the state.

Bail Reform: A Better Course of Justice Needed Now

There has been broad agreement among Democrats and Republicans for years that our bail system requires reform – but less agreement on the precise changes to be enacted. After back-and-forth discussions legislators are nearing an agreement on two bills, but unresolved issues remain which might derail the reform. Also time is running out as one bill calls for a constitutional amendment to be placed on November’s ballot requiring a 60% legislative majority vote by August 4. The Senate appears poised to meet the deadline, but the Assembly less so.

Assuring that the most dangerous criminals have less access to bail and that the least dangerous be provided alternatives are important goals. There is suspicion the bail industry is trying to block the bills. Denying bail to some and providing alternatives to others reduces the income of bail bondsmen.

The paramount issue, nonetheless, is fairness, particularly for those who spend ten months or more in jail on minor offenses because they cannot afford bail. NJ Chief Justice Stuart Rabner has said that the system ensnares the poor unfairly, resulting in unnecessary incarceration and a higher-frequency of guilty pleas. The legislature should quickly resolve their differences and pass these two bills now.  

This Was the Week That Was

Governor Christie this week tore asunder a pension bargain, decided to delay the Homestead Rebate, remained mum on the latest gun bill sitting on his desk, and reiterated his pledge (like Bush Senior) “Read my lips. No new taxes,” (although fees of course will be increased.) He raised “the white flag of surrender” and disappointed his right flank by renominating Chief Justice Rabner, but pleased the rest of us. In spite of his failure to create a New Jersey health exchange and to promote enrollment, there is good news. Then as if there was little that merited his attention in New Jersey he went to Florida yesterday to campaign for Gov. Rick Scott.  

Gov. Christie: Going Strong?

He will spend the start of the Memorial Day holiday weekend on the boardwalk promoting the summer tourism season with stops today at the Belmar boardwalk at  9:30 a.m., an Asbury Park ribbon cutting at 1:30 p.m. and a Seaside Heights boardwalk stroll at 3:30 p.m. He ceased using his Sandy recovery “Stronger than the Storm” slogan and is now saying “Going Strong.” This is an opportunity to let him know what you think about his failing and flailing administration.

NJ Democrats push millionaires tax Christie has vetoed

At a rally outside the Statehouse with more than 100 union members and supporters, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto again called on the Republican governor to raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest earners. In spite of Christie’s opposition, this plan is a must. It reduces income inequality, makes a Homestead Rebate more secure, and brings more cash to our treasury which Christie has mismanaged and plundered.

Our current and now future head of the NJ Judiciary

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner gives the keynote address at the grand reopening ceremony for the Passaic County Historic Court House, 10:30 a.m. in Paterson. The independence of our judiciary is now more secure.

Christie Loses His Battle to Dominate the New Jersey Supreme Court

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.

What You Can Do – Right Now – to Keep Christie from Bullying the Bench

I’m going to ask you to take a look at a video, then sign a petition to tell Gov. Christie not to play politics with our courts, and your constitutional rights. This is a project Blue Jersey worked on with Lambda Legal, NJ Citizen Action, CWA, Latino Action Network & our allies. And now, it needs you. – Rosi

Not decisions to be made by 7 people in black robes who are elected by no one and who believe that they are not a co-equal branch of government but a superior branch of government.

                                                        – Gov. Chris Christie

Gov. Chris Christie is a politician having a very bad year, after having one of the best years last year of any pol in the country, the fleece-wearing, SNL-guesting, Democratic Party-corrupting, Republican King of polls, the RNC, and looking like an easy shot to the White House guy of 2013.

But that was then. This is now. 2014 Christie’s a pol desperately in need of changing the subject. The Mastro report didn’t do it. Despite the hefty price tag, the public, the papers, and the comics are all laughing. Then there’s this, NJ’s credit rating downgraded five times under Christie. And the days are over when he could slide past that by insulting (the clearly more realistic) David Rosen. If voters in GOP primary states can read, they know about his budget problems, his tunnel problem, his cringeworthy cancer-funding problem. And Google can tell any GOP voter why even Mitt Romney put Christie on ice.

When things don’t go well for Christie, things happen that shouldn’t.. Ask the commuters on the GWB. As Sokolich. Ask Zimmer.

We need – and we deserve as citizens – to have judges who will decide our cases fairly and impartially, based on the evidence and facts that are presented before them, without any concern as to retaliation for the decision they make.

                     – Karol Corbin Walker, former NJ State Bar Assn. president

Or maybe ask newly-married gay New Jerseyans, plaintiffs, teachers and students, housing and workers’ rights advocates – even the NJ State Bar Association and former Justice Gary Stein. They’re all concerned that Christie may do harm to his home state by taking an action that will perk up big-pocket GOP donors – elsewhere – and get his scandals off their minds.

Next month, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, who authored the opinion in the marriage case, is up for reappointment. Christie already has a bad track record, with Justice John Wallace, and Helen Hoens. Take action. Before he does.

There are two vacancies on the Supreme Court. And the failure to reappoint the Chief Justice could leave three. And that really leaves the Court in disarray.

                                                                  – Justice Gary Stein

Please take a look at this video. And sign this petition, and tell Christie not to play politics with our courts and our constitutional rights.

The Upcoming Senate and Governor Battle Over the NJ Supreme Court

It’s an ongoing war, but the next battle over the Supreme Court begins with Gov. Christie’s decision whether to grant Chief Justice Stuart Rabner (a Democrat) tenure. The governor has already twice gone against tradition and denied tenure to qualified justices. After that decision it’s a battle between the Governor who nominates justices and the Senate which confirms or rejects them, or just holds up their hearings indefinitely.  

There are three scenarios facing Christie. He certainly wants to deny tenure (before  June 29) to Chief Justice Rabner and nominate a Christie-friendly Chief Justice. The chief is a key position. He or she is responsible for the administration of all courts in the State, exerts influence over Associate Justices, and has the sole discretion to assign senior members of lower courts to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court.

On the current seven-person court there are two Democrats, two Republicans, one Independent (who worked in a Republican administration and was appointed by a Republican Governor), and two temporarily assigned (TA) judges from the Appellate Court. Christie has made no secret of his desire to remake the court in his image. The Senate President and Judiciary Committee seek a balanced court membership between the two parties. The battle is over future high-stake rulings on controversial subjects. There will be tough bargaining before any Senate votes are cast.

See the three scenarios beyond the fold, the bargaining, what each side wants, and information about the current justices.  

What’s Happening Today Fri. 11/01/2013

Sen. Cory Booker and former Senators Jeff Chiesa and Frank Lautenberg. Yesterday at the brief swearing-in ceremony administered by Vice President Joe Biden Cory Booker was accompanied by New Jersey’s senior Senator Bob Menendez. Joe Biden, famous for his bloopers, first referred to Senator Menendez as Frank, then as Fred, and finally as Bob. Democratic Senators were on hand to welcome Booker, whereas the Repubican side of the chamber appeared empty.

Booker’s immediate predecessor Republican Jeff Chiesa has said he might be interested in running for the Senate sometime in the future. For the present he probably will soon be holding a high-paying job in a law firm. Next year he might be tapped by Christie to serve as Chief Justice of the NJ Supreme Court if Christie denies tenure to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. Chiesa supported the Republican position on the shutdown until the last minute when he voted to end the lunacy and joined the majority. On the immigration bill he supported the Republican amendments which were defeated, but he did vote in favor of the final bill. He also supported the Farm Bill, which House Republicans do not like. He was active in one of his key concerns to reduce human trafficking. His short tenure from June through October makes it difficult to assess his performance. Somewhat in the mold of Chris Christie (without the swagger and big mouth of  his mentor) he espoused conservative Republican beliefs but was also often pragmatic and bi-partisan.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg left Booker a prodigious record of progressive accomplishments. Although Booker as Senator is still a blank page, he  fervently espouses most of the same causes. As a passionate orator and hyperkinetic individual, he certainly will be more engaging, entertaining, and interesting than the staid Jeff Chiesa. In addition to his Senatorial duties, Booker also faces re-election next year for a full six-year term.

ELEC report on spending through October 25: Gov. Christie raised $13.2 million, spent $9.2 million and has cash on hand of $4 million. Barbara Buono raised $2.8 million, spent $2.4 million and has cash on hand of $276,000. Her inability to raise more funds has been a big impediment: she has been able to conduct retail politics but not wholesale politics. Overall Campaign Spending: $107.8 million: Gubernatorial: $21.4 million, Legislative: $48.7 million, Independent Special Intetest Groups: $37.8 milion. The top two Legislative District expenditures: LD 3: $3.7 million and LD 38: $3 million. For more interesting stuff in this report released yesterday, go here.


Buono/Silva gubernatorial campaign: Barbara Buono: 7:25am, The Curtis Slliwa Show, Radio interview, 970 AM;  Buono: 10:00am, Opportunity Tour: Jobs and the Economy, Nutley Diner, 372 Centre St, Nutley;  Barbara Buono: 12:00pm, press conference, Imagination Station Playground, Horseshoe Lake, 72 Eyland Ave., Succasunna.

Christie/Guadagno gubernatorial campaign: Chris Christie: 10:45am, Empire Diner, Parsippany;  11:55am, Tick Tock Diner, Clifton;  1:00pm, Glen Ridge Community Center, Glen Ridge;  2:10pm, Hispanic Statewide Chamber of Commerce Expo, NJ City University, Jersey City;  3:20pm, Lanni’s Appliances, Rutherford;  4:45pm, River Edge Pizza Kitchen, River Edge;  5:45pm, Bergen County GOP headquarters, Hackensack;  7:20, rally, Elks Lodge, Harrison.

Open thread: Add an event taking place today of interest to our readers, or email items for this column the evening before to BillOrr563@gmail.com

What’s Happening Today Fri. 08/23/2013

Where we are today: Jobs: With an an unemployment rate of 8.6%, we rank 43rd highest in the nation. We also have the highest unemployment rate in our region: CT (8.1%), DE (7.4%), NY (7.5%), and PA (7.5%). Other data from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate we lost 11,800 jobs from last month. When the jobs data became available on August 15 Sen. Barbara Buono said, “Today, while Governor Christie is at the RNC summer meeting, preparing to run for higher office, New Jersey lost more than 11,000 jobs in July. His only job creation plan has been to protect the millionaires and subsidize corporations with no accountability. Clearly, this is not working. Unlike our current Governor, putting the 400,000 unemployed New Jerseyans back to work will be my number one priority.”

Stand-off at the OK court: Our Supreme Court is coping OK with the fact that Christie stopped following the standard practice of re-nominating judges for tenure to the court. With two vacancies the Chief Justice has appointed a Republican and a Democrat to serve on a temporary basis. Christie recently denied tenure to Republican Justice Hoens and instead nominated  Republican Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina. Assembly Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg says, “This week, Senate President Sweeney indicated that he believes we should give Judge Fernandez-Vina a hearing and I agree wholeheartedly. I share the Senate President’s position that diversity, qualifications and balance are most important..” With a third vacancy in October when Justice Hoens departs, it makes sense for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold this hearing.

Given free rein, with Christie’s nomination of Republican Anne Patterson confirmed in 2011 and the possible confirmation of three other Republicans (Fernandez-Vina, plus  two other nominees already in waiting) our Governor would have appointed four Republicans. He could still try for a fifth (on a court with seven members) by denying tenure in June to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. Such is unacceptable and beyond a stand-off – we would metaphorically need a gun fight at the corral. If Justice Fernandez-Vina passes muster, OK, but three more Republicans – no way. The Senate should negotiate unconditionally with the governor for at least three to four Democrats on the court in order to maintain balance, or else continue the current stand-off.

Public Schedules: None today for Christie, Guadagno, Booker, Buono, and Silva.

U. S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan: 7:30pm, meets with Sussex County GOP mayors, Sussex Republicans’ headquarters, Newton.

What’s happening tomorrow: Many New Jerseyans will be boarding buses and traveling to Washington, D.C. to participate in the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Among them are 1199SEIU members in New Jersey who go with a renewed sense of urgency after the Supreme Court overturned key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in June. We still don’t have a response from our Governor on that matter. Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU and Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, also says, “We need to expand economic opportunities for all people and create good-paying jobs. That is one step towards achieving Dr. King’s fifty-year old dream.”

If you have an item for this column email it to me the evening before at Billorr563@gmail.com