New Jersey Solicitor General Jeremy Feigenbaum says acting Secretary of State Tahesha Way correctly followed the law in certifying the appointment of Laura Matos to the Apportionment Commission drawing new legislative districts for the 2023 election.
Way approved the removal of former Senate President Steve Sweeney and the appointment of Matos as his replacement at the request of Democratic State Chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr.
“The Secretary’s recognition of a vacancy and subsequent certification of Ms. Matos’s appointment was lawful,” said Feigenbaum, who said in a brief filed with the Superior Court that “an appointing authority enjoys the plenary power to remove an appointee in the absence of any constitutional or statutory provision to the contrary.”
Sweeney has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of his dismissal and asking Superior Court Judge Robert Lougy to reinstate him.
Lougy will hear oral argument tomorrow. Unless he decides to return Sweeney to his post immediately, he’ll also need to rule on a request that he grant an injunction stopping the redistricting proceedings until the matter is resolved.
According to Feigenbaum, Way’s certification is valid “because no language in the New Jersey Constitution, statutory law, or the Commission’s bylaws overcomes the default rule that appointing authorities have power to remove an appointee.”
He says Jones’s ability to remove a sitting member was constitutional because the State Constitution was silent on the removal of commissioners.
“Nothing in the Commission’s bylaws provides a basis to limit the appointing authority’s removal power either,” Feigenbaum argued.
Feigenbaum, representing the attorney general’s office, referred to a 2010 Office of Legislative Services legal opinion that found that Sweeney, as the new senate president, was within his legal right to remove a member of the Congressional Redistricting Commission that had been appointed by his predecessor.