With the lame duck session less than a week from ending and only one scheduled Senate Judiciary Committee meeting left, time is running out for the 104 of Gov. Phil Murphy’s nominees who remain unconfirmed after up to two years of legislative limbo.
Of those 104 nominees, 14 are scheduled to appear before the Judiciary Committee tomorrow, seven of whom are nominees for seats on the Superior Court who were nominated within the last month.
For the other 90, however, the future is more uncertain. If the lame duck session ends without them being confirmed, their nominations will expire and the process will have to begin anew – that is, if they’re renominated at all, since Murphy will have the option to nominate new candidates in their stead.
While many of the 90 unconfirmed nominees are for relatively minor boards and commissions, there are a number of notable names among them. Acting Secretary of Education Angelica Allen-McMilllan, Supreme Court nominee Rachel Wainer Apter, and Acting State Comptroller Kevin Walsh all face the prospect of their nominations expiring next week.
Walsh has the distinction of being one of the three longest-languishing nominees. He, along with Somerset County Board of Taxation nominees Charles Preston Eader and Gail Rosen, was first nominated on January 27, 2020, meaning that the trio has been awaiting confirmation for almost two full years.
But Walsh is also indicative of how the figure of 90 unconfirmed nominees inflates the true number of vacancies around the state. Walsh may be unconfirmed, but he – like Allen-McMillan, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes, and a number of others – already holds the office in an acting capacity and does not need formal confirmation to serve out the duties of the position.
While the vast majority of the state’s judicial nominees over the past two year have either been confirmed already or are scheduled for a hearing tomorrow, there are five Superior Court nominees whose nominations are in danger of expiring: three introduced in the last month, and another two introduced earlier this year.
In light of the state’s ongoing court backlog, prolonging those five vacancies could prove unhelpful.
A number of other state organizations may also face difficulties due to the Senate confirmation logjam. The Advisory Commission on the Status of Women, the Automobile Insurance Risk Exchange, the Schools Development Authority, the Passaic County Board of Taxation, the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Task Force on Wages and State Benefits, and the Victims Crime Compensation Organization all have at least three nominees currently left unconfirmed by the Senate.Unconfirmed nominees database - Sheet1