Rachel Wainer Apter inched a step closer toward confirmation as an Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court after the New Jersey State Bar Association Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee (JPAC) effectively signed off on her nomination on April 12 by giving her a grade of qualified.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced his intention to nominate Wainer Apter, a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on March 15.
The next step will be for Murphy to formally submit his nomination to the State Senate. That is expected to happen on Monday.
Under the unwritten rules of senatorial courtesy, all four senators from Bergen County must sign off on the nomination of the Englewood resident before the Senate can consider the nomination.
So far, only State Sen. Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus) has publicly stated his intention to support Wainer Apter’s nomination.
Wainer Apter will also need the backing of two Bergen Democrats, Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) and Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), and the lone Republican senator from Bergen, Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale).
After the signoffs, the decision to move forward on Wainer Apter will be up to Senate President Steve Sweeney and Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari.
Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, whose early retirement set off Murphy’s pick of Wainer Apter, is set to leave office on August 31. The new Supreme Court term begins on September 1.
The role of JPAC comes as a result of the Hughes Compact, an agreement originally negotiated between Gov. Richard J. Hughes and the Bar Association in 1969 that requires governors to submit the names of judicial and prosecutorial nominees to the Bar Association for evaluation.
It’s now up to every governor to decide if they want to participate in the Hughes Compact.
After JPAC rejected the nomination of Peter Verniero as a Supreme Court Justice, Gov. Christine Todd Whitman terminated the deal. Gov. Chris Christie, who had signed the Hughes Compact, amended it to eliminate the binding effect on a nominee deemed not qualified by the Bar Association.Hughes Compact NEW JERSEY GLOBE