skip to main content

CAG News & Alerts

The State Supreme Court During the Kean Administration

The New Jersey governor is able to nominate new members to the Supreme Court when openings occur through resignation, death or retirement of sitting justices.  Once confirmed by the Senate, appointed justices initially serve a seven-year term after which they can be nominated for tenure by the sitting governor and, if reconfirmed by the State Senate, remain on the Court until they reach the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Although not constitutionally or statutorily required, New Jersey governors have typically voluntarily abided by two principles during the appointment process.  First, when sitting justices have completed their initial seven-year term, Governors have tended to renominate them to serve until age 70 even when the governor who made the initial appointment has been of the other party. An exception to this practice occurred in May 2010 when Justice John E. Wallace, Jr.’s seven-year term expired and Governor Chris Christie chose to replace him rather than nominate him to serve the remaining two years until he would be 70.

Second, governors appointing new justices to the Supreme Court have maintained a partisan balance, allowing their own party to achieve a one-seat majority, but otherwise keeping parity between the two political parties on the bench. As a result, New Jersey governors have frequently nominated justices who were of the other party or registered as independents.

During his eight years in office, Governor Kean appointed two new justices to the Supreme Court of New Jersey and nominated six for reappointment and tenure. Five of Kean’s reappointments were originally placed in office by Kean’s predecessor in office, Governor Brendan Byrne. Kean was able to grant tenure to one of his own nominees, Marie L. Garibaldi, who he originally appointed in his first year in office. Justice Garibaldi was the first woman to sit on the New Jersey Supreme Court. By the end of his second term, Governor Kean had either appointed or reappointed six of the seven members of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice, Robert N. Wilentz.

Marie L. Garibaldi (11/17/1982 – 1/31/2000)
Gary S. Stein (1/11/1985 – 8/31/2002)

Sidney M. Schreiber (2/28/1975 – 11/17/1984)
Robert N. Wilentz (6/10/1979 – 6/30/1996)
Alan B. Handler (3/23/1977 – 8/31/1999)
Stewart G. Pollock (6/28/1979 – 8/31/1999)
Daniel J. O’Hern (8/11/1981 – 5/22/2000)
Marie L. Garibaldi (11/17/1982 – 1/31/2000)


Click to enlarge


Return to top