O’Toole Wants to End N.J. Senate Filibusters

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

o'tooleSenator Kevin O’Toole (R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic), a staunch ally of Governor Chris Christie who almost became Senate Minority Leader last month, wants to end N.J. Democrat efforts to block his Supreme Court nominees by following the federal Senate’s lead by abolishing filibusters for judicial nominees.

Specifically, O’Toole would like to see a rule ending the practice of using senatorial courtesy to indefinitely postpone high court nominations and requiring a vote on each and every gubernatorial nominee to the New Jersey Supreme Court within 90 days from the date of nomination.

“The Senate Democrats have gone to unprecedented lengths to deny the people of New Jersey a full, diverse and balanced Supreme Court, as the High Court weighs some of the most important cases in our state’s history,” Sen. O’Toole said in a press release. “Democrats around the country have celebrated a U.S. Senate move to eliminate filibustering on certain nominees by America’s Chief Executive, and now the state Senate should be able to end the blockage of Supreme Court nominations by New Jersey’s Chief Executive.”

Senator O’Toole’s press release highlights the recent history of Democrat Supreme Court stonewalling; for example, sitting Justice Anne Patterson waited 392 days for a hearing. Nominees David Bauman and Robert Hanna have languished for 372 days without a hearing being scheduled.

I’m obviously sympathetic to the Senate GOP’s plight, Save Jerseyans, since it’s a crisis in which we all share a stake. We’ll never see a real drop (as opposed to a drop in the rate of increase) of property taxes without a conservative high court. Senate Democrats have behaved despicably throughout this process. They deserve to have their wings clipped.

HOWEVER, in all likelihood, New Jersey will have a Democrat governor sometime again in the not-too-distant future. I know you’re shocked to hear me say it! But it’s true. Moreover, bicameral legislatures modeled on our federal system were designed this way for a reason: so the upper chamber could act as a check on the passions of the lower chamber which, owing to their numbers, is supposed to be a clearer reflection of the popular will (notwithstanding the plague of redistricting, a story for another time).

There’s a damn good reason why the national Dems were for filibusters before they were against them.

Frankly, we had our chance to pick up legislative seats and confirm judges the right way. The New Jersey Republican Party, collectively, blew the opportunity. Senator O’Toole is a smart dude who definitely wouldn’t disagree with that conclusion; the only internal ongoing debate in GOP circles concerns who’s to blame for the losing result.

I believe our efforts are best directed towards re-learning how to win elections than to change the rules in such a way that we’ll regret it when Governor Christie departs these shores.

New Jersey Republicans should think long and hard before tinkering filibusters. We may need them if Governor Sweeney or Governor Fulop try to put Barbara Buono in a robe. 

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