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Two NJ Supreme Court Nominees Still Twisting in the Wind [AUDIO]

One of Gov. Chris Christie’s State three Supreme Court nominees will get a confirmation hearing before the State Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 17.

Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina
Tim Larsen, Governor’s Office

Sen. President Steve Sweeney and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Nick Scutari made the announcement yesterday. No word on when or if Christie’s two other nominees will get their hearings.

“We try to act as efficiently as we can,” says Scutari. “We’ve been doing our homework leading up to this because we anticipated the nomination coming.”

Following public threats from Democratic Sen. Ray Lesniak that he would play “hardball” with Christie over his State Supreme Court justice nominations, Christie decided not to re-nominate associate justice Helen Hoens and instead nominated Faustino Fernandez-Vina, who will get his confirmation hearing in a little over two weeks

Two of Christie’s other Supreme Court nominees, David Bauman and Bob Hannah are still waiting for their confirmation hearings. The Governor announced their appointments in Dec. 2012. Asked about the fates of Bauman and Hanna, Scutari deferred to Sweeney who did not comment.

“We have not had a full complement since March of 2010 on the Supreme Court and I think it’s an embarrassment,” says Sen. Kevin O’Toole, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee. “When you have school funding and gay marriage (cases) we should have seven duly appointed, vetted Supreme Court Justices.”

According to O’Toole, Bauman and Hanna are in some sort of purgatory because they can’t get confirmation hearings. He says that’s patently unfair.

“I’m glad we have at least one on the chute, but I think it’s time we have a full complement of seven (State) Supreme Court justices,” says O’Toole. “I’m hoping we can have an up or down hearing on all three.”

Christie’s campaign promise and repeated warnings that he will reshape the High Court have caused public spats with Democratic leaders in the State Senate. Two of his earlier nominees, Phil Kwon and David Harris were rejected by the Judiciary panel.

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