Tenure appointment for N.J. Supreme Court chief advances

 New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner listens to a question Monday from the state Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel voted to approve his tenured reappointment to the high court. (Phil Gregory/ for NewsWorks)

New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner listens to a question Monday from the state Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel voted to approve his tenured reappointment to the high court. (Phil Gregory/ for NewsWorks)

The Senate’s Judiciary Committee has voted to reconfirm Stuart Rabner as the chief justice of New Jersey’s Supreme Court.

Saying that he thinks Rabner is “a good guy,” state Sen. Mike Doherty was one of the two Republicans to vote against giving the jurist tenure on New Jersey’s highest court.

Doherty indicated disappointment with implementation of past court decisions on education funding.

“There is no equal protection that’s occurring when it comes to the distribution of school aid in the state of New Jersey,” said Doherty, R-Warren. “When towns are allowed to continue to be [low-income] Abbott [districts], even when their per capita income is more than double, the entire system is evil.”

Sen. Paul Sarlo was among the 11 committee members who voted in favor of Rabner.

“I look forward to the work that you will be doing for the state of New Jersey for many years to come,” said Sarlo, D-Bergen. “Today is a good day for the independence of the courts.”

If confirmed by the full Senate, the 53-year-old Rabner could lead the Supreme Court until he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2030.

His renomination was in doubt until Gov. Chris Christie struck a deal with Senate President Steve Sweeney that also called for the confirmation of Christie pick Lee Solomon, a Republican and a state judge, to be on the high court.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also advanced Solomon’s nomination Monday.

Solomon, who previously served as a town council member, county freeholder, state lawmaker, state and federal prosecutor and head of the state’s Board of Public Utilities, said his relationship with Gov. Chris Christie will not influence how he rules.

Doherty also voted against his confirmation, largely because of Solomon’s previous support for mandating preschools in the low-income Abbott school districts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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