The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee has finally approved the nomination of Anne Patterson to the New Jersey Supreme Court by a vote of 11–1. For over a year, Senate President Stephen Sweeney had refused to even hold hearings on the nomination, ostensibly because he was angered by Governor Christie’s decision to replace rather than re-nominate Sweeney’s liberal activist friend, Justice John Wallace, at the end of his term. The obstruction prevented the addition of a non-activist justice to the New Jersey Supreme Court, and allowed the spot to be temporarily filled with a liberal justice in a move that scholars consider constitutionally suspect. During that time, the Court issued its extremely important 3–2 ruling in New Jersey’s ongoing school funding fight, ordering Governor Christie and state legislators to spend an extra $500 million next year on schools.
If confirmed, Patterson will be Governor Christie’s first appointment to the state’s highest court. Marcus Rainer, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, applauded the move and praised Patterson for stating that “she understands the strict demarcation between the role of an advocate and the role of a judge.” Here’s to hoping she is confirmed, that she sticks to the text and original meaning of the law and the Constitution, and that she hires good law clerks.