O’Toole: End ‘filibustering’ of high court picks

TRENTON – A Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to put an end to Democrats’ stonewalling of the governor’s state Supreme Court nominees.

Sen. Kevin O’Toole, (R-40), Wayne, introduced a resolution that would end the “filibustering” that has kept two nominees in limbo.

The Senate did advance the nomination of Camden County Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina, who was sworn in and is now serving on the high court.

But two people nominated over a year ago have languished without a committee hearing: David Bauman and Robert Hanna.

The former is a Superior Court judge; the latter heads the Board of Public Utilities.

When they were nominated in December 2012, O’Toole called then for prompt hearings.

And today he said in a release: “The Senate Democrats have gone to unprecedented lengths to deny the people of New Jersey a full, diverse and balanced Supreme Court, as the High Court weighs some of the most important cases in our state’s history.

“Democrats around the country have celebrated a U.S. Senate move to eliminate filibustering on certain nominees by America’s Chief Executive, and now the state Senate should be able to end the blockage of Supreme Court nominations by New Jersey’s Chief Executive.”

Democrats approved the appointment of Fernandez-Vina, in part, because they knew it essentially left unchanged the political makeup of the court, since he replaced Justice Helen Hoens, who was not renominated.

Whether the court is leaning left or right has become a constant source of disagreement between the administration and Democrats.

Two prior nominees received hearings and were rejected by the Democratic-controlled Judiciary: Phil Kwon and Bruce Harris.

The resolution would set a timetable of 90 days for a nomination to be acted upon.  If the Senate fails to act within 90 days, then the nomination would be considered approved.

The proposed resolution is attached. O’Toole: End ‘filibustering’ of high court picks