N.J. Senate panel prepares to act on latest Christie nominee to high court

No date has been set for a legislative hearing on Gov. Chris Christie’s latest choice for the New Jersey Supreme Court, but a hearing will take place.

And state Senate President Steve Sweeney indicated that the governor may have been premature in declining to nominate a longstanding jurist for another term.

Christie cited threats from Democratic lawmakers not to confirm Justice Helen Hoens when he decided last week not to renominate her.

Hoens’ rejection was not a foregone conclusion, Sweeney said Monday..

He says the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the nominee Christie wants to replace her, Camden County Assignment Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina.

“Hoens was going to get a hearing, and he’s nominated another Republican to go into Hoens’ seat so we’re doing that,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester. “The other two, we’ll continue to have discussions with the front office on.”

He referred to consideration of nominees Monmouth County Judge David Bauman and state Board of Public Utilities president Robert Hanna for seats on the high court bench. Christie tapped those contenders in December after the committee turned down two other Christie choices.

Sweeney says the partisan balance of the court must be considered, and he wants Christie to nominate a Democrat.

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