Gov. Christie appears to give up on high court pick
TRENTON - January 3, 2013 (WPVI) -- Gov. Chris Christie appears to be giving up on getting one of his state Supreme Court nominees confirmed, and has instead filed a notice of intent to nominate Robert Hanna as a lower court judge.
Christie filed required pre-nomination notice with the state Senate for Hanna, acting Attorney General John Hoffman and six other pending Superior Court nominees, according to an email from the governor's office to key lawmakers that was obtained by The Associated Press.
The state Senate, which is required to sign off on judicial nominees, has not scheduled confirmation hearings for Hanna and fellow Supreme Court nominee David Bauman in more than a year. The nominations of Hanna, the Board of Public Utilities president, and Bauman, a Monmouth County Superior Court judge, expire on Jan. 14, the end of the legislative session.
This is the first indication from Christie on the fate of the nominees. The governor has not said publicly whether he planned to re-nominate either.
The governor's office declined to comment Friday. Hanna did not immediately return a message left at his office seeking comment.
A notice of intent to nominate must be filed with the Senate at least seven days before a nomination is made.
The state's highest court has been a constant battleground between the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican governor, who campaigned in 2009 on a pledge to remake a court he viewed as too activist. Democrats have largely blocked efforts they say would change the partisan balance of the court.
Democrats confirmed one Christie nominee after a year's wait, then rejected two nominees - an Asian and an openly gay black man - based on their qualifications. The most recent nominee, Cuban-born Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina of South Jersey, was confirmed easily to succeed Republican Justice Helen Hoens, whom Christie did not reappoint.
There are two vacancies on the seven-member court. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, who was appointed by Democrat Jon Corzine, is up for re-nomination in June.
The partisan disagreement over judicial appointees has resulted in Superior Court vacancies as well.
"Our primary concern should be filling the Superior Court, as these judges are charged with administering the day-to-day justice and ensuring our citizens receive their day in court in a timely manner," said Sen. Nick Scutari, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The other pending nominees are Timothy Lydon, executive director of the Senate Majority office; John Matheussen, CEO of the Delaware River Port Authority; Marcia Silva, South River public defender; Donna Taylor, Atlantic County lawyer; Peter Tober, former Christie counsel and executive director of the state Ethics Commission; and Jeffrey Waldman, Atlantic County lawyer.
new jersey news, gov. chris christie, inside politics
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