Senate President Steve Sweeney today stopped short of indicating support or opposition to Gov. Phil Murphy’s nomination of Fabiana Pierre-Louis as an Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
“I want to congratulate Ms. Pierre-Louis on her nomination to serve on New Jersey’s highest court. I look forward to meeting and talking with her,” Sweeney said in a statement released this afternoon.
Privately, Democratic insiders allied with the senate president acknowledge that it will be hard for Sweeney to object to Pierre-Louis, a former federal prosecutor and a South Jerseyan.
Sweeney has the ability to single-handedly torpedo the nomination.
Two Sweeney allies, State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Delran) and Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-Mount Laurel) have already indicated their support for Pierre-Louis, a Burlington County resident.
If the Senate confirms Pierre-Louis, it would be the first time in the court’s 72-year history that South Jersey had more than two of the seven seats.
Pierre-Louis would be the first South Jersey Democrat on the top court since Gov. Chris Christie tossed Justice John Wallace in 2010. The two sitting justices from the South, Lee Solomon and Faustino Fernandez-Vina, are Republicans.
Wallace’s seat remained vacant for six years after Sweeney refused move Christie’s Republican nominees to what he considered a Democratic seat.
In a tweet today, Murphy advisor Bill Castner praised Sweeney and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg as the “two leaders deserve the most credit for opposing the prior Administration’s efforts to politicize the NJ Supreme Court – and who fought the grotesque decision to deny Justice John Wallace tenure.”