Weekly Roundup: July 1

TRENTON – Controversial and much debated decisions made last week by the U.S. Supreme Court gave leading state Democrats some ammunition to push Republicans to embrace progressive positions on voting rights and same-sex marriage.

Same Sex Marriage

On same sex marriage, the Democrats made the argument to Gov. Chris Christie to give Republican lawmakers the opportunity to vote their conscience. It is based on the assumption the governor is pulling the strings on the votes cast by them and that more of them would in fact vote in favor of the bill had he let them.

Christie argued that Senate President Steve Sweeney needs to get his own party’s votes in order, given that he supports the bill now but abstained a few years ago. Sweeney acknowledged a mistake was made in the past but that now was the time to correct it.

Voting Rights Act

The other hot button issue, the voting rights act, had some state Democrats calling on their constituents and federal lawmakers to make sure a fair formula is devised to make sure that minority voters especially are not disenfranchised.

The Voting Rights Act that enabled the federal government to keep tabs on voting laws in certain states with a history of racial issues will now be curtailed, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week that argued the old law was based on obsolete data.

But some Democrats argued the new formula could amount to a modern form of Jim Crow.

Universities marry

Well, they finally got married: Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. A merger years in the making, Christie said all sides were finally able to overcome the “politics” that had prevented the streamlining from taking place.

Now with the merger in place, Rutgers University becomes even more prominent as a public university with an assortment of health science and medical schools, Rowan University becomes a research university, and an economic boom statewide is likely to take place, according to supporters of the merger.

More research dollars and access makes Rutgers University a Top 25 research facility, Christie said.

University officials hailed the reorganization as a breakthrough that will prevent a brain drain of scientific talent.

Weekly Roundup: July 1