"The state Supreme Court that returned to work this week holds a troubling distinction: For the first time in 20 years, there are no minority judges on the bench. And yet more than 40 percent of the state's population is black, Hispanic or Asian."
-Star-Ledger Editorial Board
The Star-Ledger printed an editorial today where they joined in the call for the Governor to create a court that better reflects all of the state's residents. The Latino Action Network (LAN) issued a press release in conjunction with allied organizations in the African-American and Latino communities on September 12, 2011 announcing a letter sent by this coalition to Senator Sweeney and state leadership demanding that they only advance nominations to the New Jersey Supreme Court if they result in an independent court representative of all New Jerseyans.
See Star-Ledger Editorial below:
Star-Ledger Editorial Board
09/17/2011 7:14 AM
The state Supreme Court that returned to work this week holds a troubling distinction: For the first time in 20 years, there are no minority judges on the bench. And yet more than 40 percent of the state's population is black, Hispanic or Asian.
One vacancy exists and another will crop up in the next six months. Gov. Chris Christie has to make every effort to create a court that mirrors the diversity of the state.
Christie drew criticism last year from across the political spectrum — and deservedly so — when he decided not to re-appoint Justice John E. Wallace, the only black justice on the court, to another seven-year term. Wallace was more centrist than liberal, but that was irrelevant to Christie, who spoke openly about wanting to reshape the court. His injection of political partisanship into the process was a sharp turn from a tradition going back more than 50 years, in which governors of both parties have reappointed justices, regardless of who made the original selection. Instead, Christie nominated Anne Patterson to take the Wallace seat.
He didn't get his way at first. Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) refused to advance her nomination. But once Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto stepped down earlier this year, the path was clear for Patterson. Christie got the Democratic leadership on board by promising not to appoint anyone to fill the Wallace seat until March 2012, when the Wallace term would have expired. Another seat on the court will open next year, when Justice Virginia Long turns 70, the court's mandatory retirement age.
There are two opportunities for Christie to create a court that better reflects all of the state's residents.