Gov. Phil Murphy endorsed late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s pending induction to the New Jersey Hall of Fame, splitting with some who criticized the Trenton native’s selection.
“He was quite a guy, and listen, you serve in the U.S. Supreme Court, you deserve recognitions like this,” Murphy said at Wednesday’s virus briefing. “I would say that the whole class is an extraordinary group of folks, and it’s another reminder that New Jersey punches way above its weight. God rest his soul. We salute him along with all the 2021 inductees.”
Inductees to the New Jersey Hall of Fame are chosen in a multi-step process. The hall’s selection committee, with public input, picks 100 potential nominees. The Hall of Fame Academy narrows that list down to 50, and those names are put to a public vote during the month of May.
The top vote getter in each category, plus others at the discretion of the gubernatorially-nominated board, get inducted.
Apart from Scalia, this year’s public service inductees include founding father Alexander Hamilton, William Paterson, a signer of the U.S. Constitution and New Jersey’s second governor, and gay-rights and anti-war activist David Mixner, among others.
Renowned journalist Gay Talese is among this year’s arts and letters inductees.
Scalia’s pending induction was met with criticism in some corners, especially given the absence of Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), who was nominated to the Hall of Fame this year ahead of the end of her final term.
“NJ disgraces itself by putting Scalia in the Hall of Fame and not Loretta Weinberg,” said Nancy Erika Smith, an attorney who has represented women in many prominent sexual harassment cases, on Twitter. “Scalia was a radical right wing voice on the Supreme Court who always sided with the rich & powerful against the poor, women, minorities, working people & immigrants. Shameful!”
Weinberg is a key advocate for reforms in Trenton to reduce harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct.
Former Gov. Richard J. Hughes and New Jersey statesmen William Paterson and Richard Stockton were also passed over for a spot in the hall of fame.