Justice in waiting

If some political pundits are right, Lee Solomon’s tenure as a Superior Court Judge maybe a short one. The word is that Solomon, named to the bench last week by Acting Governor Richard Codey, could emerge as a leading candidate for Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court when incoming Governor Jon Corzine start shopping for a Republican appointment. By tradition, Governors try to balance the partisan makeup of the state’s top court. The 51-year-old Solomon served as a Camden County Freeholder, State Assemblyman, 1992 GOP congressional candidate against Rob Andrews, Camden County Prosecutor, and since 2002, as Deputy U.S. Attorney, running the federal prosecutor’s South Jersey office. Solomon was a leading candidate for a federal judgeship in 2003, but that seat went to Peter Sheridan, the Counsel to the Republican State Committee. Sheridan has not yet been confirmed, largely because his nomination has been held up by the state’s two Democratic U.S. Senators, who wanted a South Jerseyan. In 2003, Andrews, along with three Democratic State Senators and ten Democratic Assemblymen — all from South Jersey — endorsed Solomon for that post. Corzine’s first appointment will come next summer when Chief Justice Deborah Poritz reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. Poritz is a Republican and Corzine will almost certainly name a Democratic Chief Justice. A Democrat, Justice James Zazzali, turns 70 in 2007. Corzine could elevate Zazzali to Chief Justice for a year and appoint a Republican to Poritz’s seat, or he could hope that Zazzali might leave a year early. Corzine, of course, could decide that he won’t be bound by a tradition of partisan balance agreed to by his predecessors fifty years ago.

Justice in waiting