The New Jersey Supreme Court has ordered John E. Wallace, Jr., the tiebreaker on the Congressional Redistricting Commission, to provide more details as to why he voted for the Democratic map.
Announcing his vote on December 22, Wallace said that he picked the Democratic map “simply because in the last redistricting map it was drawn by the Republicans.”
“A more detailed statement of reasons would assist the Court,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in his order.
Rabner said that court rules “allows a trial judge or agency head to submit ‘an amplification of a prior [oral] statement [or] opinion’ when an appeal is taken.”
“By analogy to that rule, the Court respectfully requests that the Chairperson of the Redistricting Commission amplify the grounds for his decision and present that amplification to the parties and to the Court by January 11, 2022,” Rabner wrote.
Republicans asked the Supreme Court to affirm Wallace’s logic in supporting the Democratic map.
“Today, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an unprecedented order confirming that our Republican lawsuit is meritorious, and that Justice Wallace’s selection of the Democratic map failed to contain any reasoning that the Court could possibly affirm,” said Doug Steinhardt, the GOP redistricting chair. “We are committed to continuing our fight for a fair and equitable map for the people of New Jersey with further discussion in the Court.”
But Democrats stood firm in support of the final map.
“We are confident in the impartial, fair and deliberative process in which all 13 members of the Commission were active participants. We have no doubt that the Commission’s selected map is a legal, fair and representative map for all residents of New Jersey,” the Democratic commissioners said in a statement on Tuesday evening. “We intend to file a response to this action when appropriate.”
In their court filing, Republicans said that Wallace “did not engage in any negotiations with the Republican or Democratic Delegations as part of any of these public hearings, nor did any negotiations or discussions take place in private during the time of the public hearings.”
The GOP says Wallace provided feedback on early map submissions and incorporated them in their final proposal.
“At no time during the three-days of discussions did Chair Wallace meet with the two partisan delegations together, nor did the partisan delegations exchange maps,” the Republicans claim.
Wallace was picked by the Supreme Court as one of the two candidates submitted to them by the two major political parties.
Click PLAY to hear Wallace’s statement.Order_086587
This story was updated at 6:14 PM with comment from Steinhardt and at 9:59 PM with comment from the Democratic commissioners.