Senator KEVIN J. O'TOOLE
District 40 (Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic)
Abolishes practice of senatorial courtesy for gubernatorial nominations to be Supreme Court Justices by establishing deadline for Senate consideration of such nominations.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
A Senate Resolution amending Senate Rules 20:1 and 20:3.
Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey:
1. Rule 20:1 is amended to read as follows:
20:1. Reference to Committee; Timeframe for Consideration of Supreme Court Nominations.
When nominations are made by the Governor and submitted to the Senate, they shall, unless otherwise ordered by the Senate President, be referred to the Judiciary Committee. If referred to another appropriate committee, they shall receive a second reference to the Judiciary Committee.
Any judicial nomination to be the Chief Justice or an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court shall, in accordance with Rule 20:3, be confirmed or rejected by the Senate in public session within 90 days after the nomination has been received by the Senate, or, if the Senate is in temporary adjournment on the 90th day, be confirmed or rejected by the Senate in public session on the first day it next reconvenes, unless the nomination has already been recommended for rejection by the Judiciary Committee pursuant to the committee’s vote in accordance with Rule 20:2. If the Senate fails to act on the nomination within the applicable timeframe, the nomination shall be deemed approved by the Senate.
2. Rule 20:3 is amended to read as follows:
The final question to be placed before the Senate in public session on every nomination shall be, "Will the Senate advise and consent to this nomination (or these nominations, if more than one is to be voted on by a single roll call)?" For any judicial nomination to be the Chief Justice or an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, this question shall be considered within 90 days after the nomination has been received by the Senate, or, if the Senate is in temporary adjournment on the 90th day, shall be considered on the first day it next reconvenes, unless the nomination has already been recommended for rejection by the Judiciary Committee pursuant to the committee’s vote in accordance with Rule 20:2. This question shall not be considered on the same day [the] that any nomination is received, or on the day it is reported by Committee, unless the Senate shall so resolve by the affirmative vote of at least 30 Senators. The affirmative vote of at least 21 Senators is necessary to advise and consent to any nomination. The President may call for a single roll call on more than one nomination unless a Senator requests a separate roll call on particular nominations. The names of the Senators voting for and against the nomination and the report, if any, of the Senate Judiciary Committee with respect to the nomination, shall be entered in the Journal. Notwithstanding any of the provisions of this rule, consideration of the question whether the Senate will advise and consent to the nomination of any person for the office of Attorney General or Secretary of State, may be considered on the same day the nomination is received from the Governor.
This resolution amends the Senate Rules to require that gubernatorial nominations for Chief Justice and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court be considered for confirmation or rejection by the Senate within 90 days of receipt of the nomination, or the first day the Senate next reconvenes if it is in temporary adjournment on the 90th day, unless the nomination has already been recommended for rejection by the Judiciary Committee based on that committee’s vote. If the Senate fails to act on any such judicial nomination within the applicable timeframe, the nomination would be deemed approved by the Senate.
By establishing this timeframe for Senate confirmation or rejection, the resolution would abolish the current practice known as senatorial courtesy for Supreme Court nominations. Exercised as a matter of unwritten custom, it is a practice by which each individual senator who either (1) resides in the same county as a gubernatorial nominee, or (2) represents that nominee’s district, may indefinitely block the nominee’s appointment, thereby preventing any further action by the Senate concerning the appointment. This practice would only be abolished for the nominations of the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and would remain unchanged with respect to all other gubernatorial nominations subject to the Senate’s advice and consent.