N.J. Democrat Menendez stymies Obama judicial pick

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, is blocking President Barack Obama’s nomination of a federal magistrate to be on the powerful 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s the first time a fellow Democrat is stalling one of the President’s judicial selections.

Menendez said Judge Patty Schwartz did not demonstrate a breadth of knowledge about constitutional law in responding to his legal questions. He’s using a procedure known as senatorial courtesy to prevent the nomination from moving ahead.

Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison said that could strain relations between Menendez and Obama.

“Both of them are going to have to work together. They’re essentially running for re-election together, and I don’t think that the president is going willingly write off the state of New Jersey or Sen. Menendez’s own re-election campaign based on this one move,” Harrison said.

Harrison said it’s unlikely the impasse will hurt Menendez’s re-election campaign because she says voters are more concerned about pocketbook issues.

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