Former Supreme Court Justice: Appropriate for committee to look at everything

Former Supreme Court Justice Virginia Long spoke to NJTV today as her potential successor on the high court awaited his Senate confirmation hearing, telling Managing Editor Mike Schneider that things were different in her day.

Long told Schneider her first confirmation hearing for appointment to the high court was a “love fest,” but her re-nomination hearing seven years later was much more contentious.

“By that point I had been deciding cases for seven years so various members of the committee had the opportunity to read those cases and make comments as to their position regarding them,” Long said.

Asked what she thought of the proceedings under way in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where nominee Phil Kwon was undergoing intense questioning over a financial settlement involving a business owned by his wife and mother, Long would not comment on the specific questions, but said in the vetting of justices everything is fair game.

“I think that it’s appropriate for the committee to look at everything…this is the Supreme Court; this is the last chance that our fellow citizens have for vindication of their rights…and I don’t have any problem with the committee looking into every aspect of a nominee,” she said.

Long, who spent 13 years on the court, said the vetting judicial nominees endure is actually government at its best.

“We have the Governor nominating, we have the advice and consent of the Senate for a position on the Supreme Court, and when that works properly, you get great nominees,” she said. “And we have great people on the Court now.”

Long, who was forced to retire March 1 when she reached the age of 70, said she would gladly have continued to serve on the high court.

“I would have died with my proverbial judge boots on,” she said.  “Unfortunately, that was not to be. I really don’t think that an age 70 retirement makes much sense anymore, but I leave that to the governor and the legislature to decide.”

The full interview with Long will air on NJ Today tonight at 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Former Supreme Court Justice: Appropriate for committee to look at everything