There is a little precedent to Gov. Christopher Christie’s decision not to renominate a sitting Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court: after the ratification of the current State Constitution in 1948, Republican Gov. Alfred Driscoll did not reappoint Republican Associate Justice Nathan Jacobs. Jacobs was a 43-year-old former Harvard Law Review Editor and delegate to the 1947 constitutional convention when Driscoll appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1948. When Driscoll appointed the newly-constituted top court – with political and geographical balance – Jacobs was dropped down to an Appellate Court judgeship.
Driscoll appointed Arthur Vanderbilt, an Essex County Republican and the father of the modern-day state judicial system, as Chief Justice, and bumped the sitting Chief Justice, Clarence Case, a former Republican Senate President from Somerset County, down to Associate Justice. He reappointed four other Justices: Dayton Oliphant, a former Assembly Majority Leader and Mercer County Prosecutor; Harry Heher, who spent ten years as Democratic State Chairman and seven years as Mercer County Democratic Chairman; former Essex County Prosecutor William Wachenfeld, a Democrat; former Assembly Speaker Albert Burling, a Camden County Democrat. To maintain a partisan balance and geographical balance, Driscoll named a Democrat, Henry Ackerson, a circuit court judge and former State Senator from Morris County, to the seventh seat.
Jacobs returned to the Supreme Court in 1952, when Case retired, and served until he turned 70 in 1975.