The N.J. Law Journal reports:
Gov. Chris Christie and Senate Democrats arrived at a compromise Monday breaking a year-long deadlock over the state Supreme Court.
“Christie’s nominee, Anne Patterson, will get a confirmation hearing within a month — only it won’t be for the seat vacated last year by Democrat Justice John Wallace Jr., as originally intended.
Instead, Patterson, a Republican, will be considered as a replacement for GOP Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto, whose term ends on Aug. 31 and who has asked not to be reappointed.
At a joint press conference, Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney said the agreement came out of recent negotiations to end the impasse, which began when Christie refused to reappoint Wallace and Sweeney declared that no replacement would be considered by the Senate until March 2012, when Wallace, had he been reappointed, would have reached mandatory retirement age.
‘We both determined that the health of the Supreme Court and the health of the system … were more important than any one of us getting our particular way,’ Christie told reporters.
‘We need to move forward,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. ‘This is too important of an issue. We both took strong positions. Neither one of us gave in, and we came up with a good deal.’
Christie said he will withdraw Patterson’s nomination for Wallace’s seat and resubmit it for Rivera-Soto’s. “
Our hard-charging governor took a time-out to re-think his strategy of nominating a “Mini-me” to fill the seat of a Supreme Court Justice he refused to re-appoint.
In exchange for this concession, Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester), a terrific blocker, agreed to hold a hearing on the governor’s nomination.
In the end, Governor Christie will achieve his desired result of re-shaping the N.J. Supreme Court to look like the world according to Christie. However, this symbolic gesture, insisted on by Senator Sweeney, of appointing a justice to fill the seat of Rivera-Soto, rather than the seat of a justice Governor Bluto terminated with extreme prejudice, is incredibly important.
Kudos to Senator Sweeney for standing up to the school-yard bully.