Once Gov. Phil Murphy formally nominates Fabiana Pierre-Louis as an Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, it will be up to the New Jersey State Senate to decide if they want to confirm her nomination.
Murphy is giving the Senate a wide window – five months – to confirm the 39-year-old former federal prosecutor. Associate Justice Walter Timpone reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in November 10.
The Senate is under no obligation to complete the confirmation process by Timpone’ s exit.
Pierre-Louis’ first hurdle is to win the backing of the New Jersey Bar Association’s Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee.
After that, she must win the support of the two senators in her home county of Burlington. The Senate won’t consider her nomination without that sign-off.
The Justice-designate is already half-way there: State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Delran) told the New Jersey Globe that he plans to support Murphy’s nomination of his constituent.
She must also win the backing of State Sen. Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham).
“I’m very excited and encouraged with this historic nomination,” Addiego told the Globe. “I look forward to speaking with her and going through the process. It’s an extremely important nomination.”
After the Burlington senators sign off, the ball moves to the court of Senate President Steve Sweeney.
Sweeney alone must decide if the Senate will consider Pierre-Louis for the seat of outgoing Justice Walter Timpone.
Timpone went to the bench in 2016 as a compromise between Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Sweeney for a seat that had been vacant for six years. Christie had refused to renominate Justice John Wallace and Sweeney steadfastly declined to confirm a series of Republican nominees for a seat that he viewed as a Democratic one – and a South Jersey seat.
If Sweeney releases Pierre-Louis’ nomination, it will head to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It will be up to the committee chairman, Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), to hold confirmation hearings and schedule a vote.
“I look forward to meeting with her,” Scutari said.
After that, control returns to Sweeney. The Senate President alone decides when a confirmation vote will be scheduled.