LINDEN — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nick Scutari said New Jersey State Supreme Court Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto is in contempt of the law and should step down.
The criticism comes after Rivera-Soto said that he will abstain from cases before the New Jersey Supreme Court as long as a temporary judge.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney said Rivera-Soto “is by far the worst Justice in the history of the modern court” and lawmakers are considering options from filing ethics complaints to seeking impeachment.
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner appointed Judge Edwin Stern to fill in as the seventh member of the court after Governor Chris Christie refused to reappoint Justice John Wallace in May. Sweeney has yet to schedule confirmation hearings for Anne Murray Patterson, the judge Christie picked to replace Wallace.
Rivera-Soto maintains that Stern’s participation in opinions is unconstitutional because he was not needed for the court to have a full complement of jurists.
He said the seating of Stern when there is already a quorum of five violates the Constitution’s “when necessary” provision for fill-ins.
Rivera-Soto’s term expires in September, making him the second associate justice of the Supreme Court to be eligible for re-nomination by the Republican Governor.
Rivera-Soto was censured in 2008 for using the weight of his office while intervening in a dispute between his son and another teenager.
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