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Sweeney, Lesniak and Scutari refuse confirmation hearings on Christie’s Supreme Court nominee

The sides are digging in and we truly are headed for a showdown over the courts. Senator Sweeney has said it’s Justice Wallace or no one and that he won’t allow anyone to fill Wallace’s seat on the New Jersey Supreme Court for almost two years, when he would have faced mandatory retirement. Senator Scutari, who would Chair the hearing in the Judiciary committee echoed his sentiments:

“Regardless of her qualifications, she’s not going to get a hearing,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), whose committee is responsible for vetting the governor’s nominees.

Senator Lesniak offered these comments on the current standoff:

Lesniak says he, Sweeney and Scutari agree that the nomination won’t be heard until the appointment comes up in two years, when he says they will judge that nominee on the merits. If the standoff isn’t resolved by May 20, Chief Justice Rabner can fill the seat for the duration from the ranks of the Appellate court or retired Justices. For now though, the rhetoric on both sides continues to build.

Updated by Jason: We get this response from the Christie administration:

“The Governor has fulfilled his constitutional duties by making a judicial nomination; the Senate’s constitutional duty is to provide ‘advise and consent’ through a hearing for the nominee, followed by an up-or-down vote in the full Senate.  That’s all we ask.  So, we would be surprised if the Senate President is willing to simply abandon the New Jersey Constitution and refuse to consider a qualified judicial nominee.  That would truly be a historic and unfortunate precedent.  

“Also, the Constitution clearly states that all justices of the Supreme Court are appointed to an initial seven-year term – not automatic lifetime tenure.  The framers of our state Constitution did that for a reason, and we have to believe that the Senate President understands and respects that.”

Does anyone find it ironic that after making the unprecedented decision of to not renominate a sitting Justice, that now all of a sudden they are going to worry about setting precedent?