A historic period is ending in New Jersey. Justice John E. Wallace Jr., who was nominated by Governor James E. McGreevey on April 12, 2003, will no longer serve on the Supreme Court of the state of New Jersey.
Wallace, a Democrat and the court’s only African American, will reach the end of his seven-year term next month and Governor Chris Christie has decided to remove him from the bench rather than reappoint him. Since his election, Christie has shown the impetus to strong-arm and do what he believes appropriate. Wallace is the first jurist to be refused by a New Jersey governor after seeking reappointment since the current state constitution was adopted 63 years ago.
Two Democratic senators are blocking hearings on Christie’s replacement nominee Anne Patterson. Patterson, 51, has never been an active judge and she has not been active in politics, however, she is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Cornell University Law School. Some have asserted that if Christie does not reappoint Wallace, a battle between Democrats and Republicans may direct the Senate to disagree with his suggested replacement.
Christie describes the court as being historically liberal and “out of control.” He campaigned last year as a conservative who would place the needs of the people first, but is now bowing to partisan politics. The refusal to reappoint Wallace appears to be a matter of partisanship and he has yet to state a reason for not extending Wallace’s tenure.
Justice Wallace has declined to comment on the governor’s decision. In two years, Wallace would have met the mandatory retirement age of 70.
At the time of his nomination, Justice Wallace was a New Jersey Superior Court Judge and was appointed to the Superior Court in 1984. He was born March 13, 1942, in Pitman, N.J. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware in 1964 and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1967. He served in the United States Army from 1968 to 1970, attaining the rank of captain.