5-21-14 Gov. Chrisitie to re-nominate Stuart Rabner as chief jusitce of the NJ Supreme Court
The Record - Gov. Christie to re-nominate Stuart Rabner as chief justice of the NJ Supreme Court "Governor Christie will re-nominate Stuart Rabner as chief justice of the state Supreme Court later today, according to two sources with knowledge of the plans. The decision was reached as part of negotiations with state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the Gloucester County Democrat who has bitterly clashed with Christie over the court for four years...As part of the deal, Christie will get to fill one of two vacant seats with Superior Court Judge Lee Solomon, a former Republican lawmaker who previously served as president of the Board of Public Utilities..."

The Record - Gov. Christie to re-nominate Stuart Rabner as chief justice of the NJ Supreme Court

MAY 21, 2014, 9:18 AM    LAST UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 2014, 11:11 AM

BY CHARLES STILE AND MICHAEL PHILLIS

STATE HOUSE BUREAU

THE RECORD

Governor Christie will re-nominate Stuart Rabner as chief justice of the state Supreme Court later today, according to two sources with knowledge of the plans.

The decision was reached as part of negotiations with state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the Gloucester County Democrat who has bitterly clashed with Christie over the court for four years.

If confirmed, Rabner will be able to serve as chief justice until 2030, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Rabner, a Democrat who worked with Christie as a top deputy in the United States Attorney's Office in Newark, was originally nominated to the court in 2007 by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

As part of the deal, Christie will get to fill one of two vacant seats with Superior Court Judge Lee Solomon, a former Republican lawmaker who previously served as president of the Board of Public Utilities.

In 2012, Solomon’s name circulated as a potential nominee previously but some legislators had concerns about the diversity of the court

“We’re going to look at the Supreme Court as a whole, and we’re going to consider the openings, hopefully as a package, to continue to maintain diversity and balance on the court,” state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, chairman of the judiciary committee, said at the time. “There is no diversity, and we’re losing balance.”

Speculation had been building in recent months that Christie might not re-nominate Rabner, which would have represented the first time a sitting chief justice was denied tenure since the modern court was established in 1947.

Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, declined to comment about the nomination.

There has been extended tension over the makeup of the Supreme Court since 2010 when Christie decided not to renominate Justice John Wallace, a Democrat.

Christie has said he considers the court too activist and has strongly criticized its opinions on major cases such as school funding and affordable housing. When the governor decided not to renominate Wallace, he said in order to change the thinking on the court he also had to change the personalities that sit on the bench.

Last year, when Republican Justice Helen Hoens was up for renomination, Christie decided against renaming her to the bench. Traditionally, justices have been reappointed almost by default and Christie’s refusal to continue that pattern has infuriated Democrats.

Currently, the Supreme Court consists of two Democrats, two Republicans and an Independent. In addition to those five permanent members, the court has two judges seated temporarily on the bench – one Democrat and one Republican.

Traditionally, the court has maintained a four to three political balance in favor of the governor’s party.

Should Solomon be confirmed by the Senate, he will replace one of the temporary judges on the bench.