New Jersey: latest in 15+ year effort to require state supreme court justices be subject to retention elections; legislative reaction & disagreement with high court’s rulings

News reports indicate that at least two members of the New Jersey Senate plan to introduced a constitutional amendment to require New Jersey supreme court justices face voters in yes/no retention elections. This plan is the latest in a 15-year pattern of similar efforts filed in the legislature after the state’s supreme court apparently in response to rulings issued by the supreme court regarding affordable housing requirements and education spending (the Abbott cases).

Under the current NJ constitution, Superior Court judges and Supreme Court justices are subject to a 3-step process:

  1. Initial nomination by the Governor and confirmation by the Senate.
  2. After 7-years of service, renomination by the Governor and reconfirmation by the Senate
  3. If renominated and reconfirmed, serve until mandatory retirement age (70).

The plan, as reported in local media, would be to replace renomination and reconfirmation with a yes/no retention vote after 4 years in office. (h/t Malia Reddick with IAALS)

This marks the latest in an over decade-long effort to change the way judges in New Jersey are picked, many focused on forcing justices and judges to run in elections. While dozens of constitutional amendments have been proposed, none appear to have gotten as far as the committee hearing stage.

Details below the fold.

Cardinale/Bucco/Oroho language: For Supreme Court only, set initial term at 5 years and require yes/no retention election every 5 years for additional terms.

SCR 17 of 2016/2017       Filed, pending in committee

SCR 15 of 2014/2015       Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 12 of 2012/2013       Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 80 of 2010/2011       Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 29 of 2008/2009       Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 85 of 2006/2007       Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 17 of 2004/2005       Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 109 of 2002/2003     Filed, never heard in committee

DiMaio/Space language: For Supreme Court only, set initial term at 5 years and require yes/no retention election every 5 years for additional terms.

ACR 47 of 2016/2017       Filed, pending in committee

ACR 47 of 2014/2015       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 48 of 2012/203         Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 24 of 2012/2013       Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 91 of 2010/2011       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 19 of 2010/2011       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 95 of 2008/2009       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 94 of 2006/2007       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 175 of 2004/2005    Filed, never heard in committee

Cardinale/Rooney “Judicial Commission” language: for Supreme and Superior Court, set initial term at 4 years and require both reappointment by a Judicial Commission and require yes/no retention election every 4 years for additional terms.

ACR 82 of 2008/2009       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 125 of 2006/2007    Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 41 of 2006/2007       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 136 of 2004/2005    Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 61 of 2004/2005       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 85 of 2002/2003       Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 48 of 2002/2003       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 151 of 2000/2001    Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 44 of 2000/2001       Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 41 of 1998/1999       Filed, never heard in committee

SCR 49 of 1996/1997       Filed, never heard in committee

Carroll/Gregg language: For Supreme Court only, set initial term at 7 years and require yes/no retention election every 7 years for additional terms.

ACR 81 of 2012/2013       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 78 of 2010/2011       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 212of 2008/2009      Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 178 of 2006/2007    Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 104 of 2004/2005    Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 101 of 2002/2003    Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 77 of 2000/2001       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 55 of 1998/1999       Filed, never heard in committee

ACR 120 of 1996/1997    Filed, never heard in committee

Polistina language: For Supreme Court only, set initial term at 7 years and require yes/no retention election every 7 years for additional terms.

ACR 190 of 2010/2011    Filed, never heard in committee