Volume 6/Issue 6

  • Governor Christie & Senate President Sweeney Battle Over State Supreme Court Nominee
  • Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop Announces $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage for Municipal Workers
  • New Legislator Profile: Joanne Downey

Governor Christie & Senate President Sweeney Battle Over State Supreme Court Nominee

Governor Chris Christie announced his selection of Monmouth County Court Superior Judge David F. Bauman to the position of Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court earlier this week. If confirmed, he will be the first Asian-American to serve on New Jersey's highest Court.

The Governor previously nominated Judge Bauman to the State Supreme Court in 2012, but his nomination was withdrawn after the Senate refused to act on his appointment. Instead, Judge Bauman achieved a tenured judgeship on the Superior Court, after receiving a 37-0 vote by the Senate.

Senate President Steve Sweeney publicly stated that Judge Bauman will not receive a hearing on his new nomination. The battle between the Senate President and the Governor stems from their differing perspectives over the current partisan makeup of the Supreme Court.

The Senate President maintained that he will only consider a nominee if the Governor submits a Democrat to the Court. "For the past six years I fought to protect the long-standing tradition of keeping political balance on New Jersey's Supreme Court and I will continue that fight,” Sweeney said. “This nomination would contradict the intent of the framers of the Constitution by leaving only two Democrats on the seven-member court.”

Governor Christie counters that Senator Sweeney was silent for eight years during the administrations of the previous three Democratic governors, when the Supreme Court was comprised of four Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent. He also noted that the Senate President was one of Judge Bauman’s unanimous votes for his current judgeship less than a year ago.

"The Senate President was fine when four Democrats were on the Court yet he objects to four Republicans. This is politics at its worst," said Governor Christie.

The Governor went on to draw a comparison between his nominee for the State Supreme Court and the current debate over the replacement for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia. As reported in the Star Ledger, ""I hope and trust, given how vocal Democrats have been about Washington, D.C., and the problems down there, that they will allow New Jersey to set an example," Christie said.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop Announces $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage for Municipal Workers

Earlier this week, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, an early advocate of raising the State’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, announced that he was implementing the new rate for his municipal employees.

A potential gubernatorial candidate, Mayor Fulop noted that he couldn’t advocate for something statewide that his city wasn’t practicing. The minimum wage increase will adjust the salaries of 500 employees, nearly a quarter of the city's work force. The Mayor stated it would ensure that working for Jersey City provides a base salary that allows an individual to afford to live in the city and region.

Mayor’s Fulop’s action comes on the heels of recent announcement by Senate President Sweeney, another potential gubernatorial candidate, and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, to pass legislation to increase the wage by one dollar plus the rate of inflation each year following the initial increase until the minimum tops $15. If the Governor refuses to sign the bill, the legislative leaders said they would go to the voters with a proposed constitutional amendment to enact the same plan.

New Legislator Profile: Joanne Downey

Joanne Downey is the new Assemblywoman from the 11th Legislative District representing multiple Monmouth County shore municipalities including Asbury Park and Long Branch. She is the running-mate of Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, who was profiled in a previous “In the Loop.”

She is currently an attorney in private practice, representing accident victims and victims of negligence. Assemblywoman Downey resides in Freehold Township with her husband and two young daughters.

Preserving and protecting open spaces and clean water, and ensuring the future viability of the state’s roads and transportation network are two of the Assemblywoman’s main legislative priorities. She was appointed to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee.