Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

ICYMI: South Jerz gets no Supreme Court love

So would a Supreme Court justice really rule differently if he or she lived in the cute Philadelphia suburb of Moorestown in Burlington County, or the cute New York suburb of Morristown in Morris County? Are people in Washington Township (Gloucester County) different from people in Washington Township (Bergen County)?

ICYMI: South Jerz gets no Supreme Court love

In case you missed it, in today's paper I looked at the present -- and historical -- lack of representation by South Jersey on the state Supreme Court.

Democrats demanded "diversity" from Republican Gov. Christie in picking two new justices for the New Jersey Supreme Court. And he obliged, several times over, checking off these diversity boxes with just two nominations: African American and gay; Korean American and immigrant.

One of those appointees, Chatham Mayor Bruce Harris, who is black, gay, and Republican, gets his first Senate hearing soon. But the other, Phillip Kwon, a Korean American immigrant who would have been the court's first justice of Asian descent, has been rejected by the Senate judiciary committee - thanks largely to questions over his family's business dealings - in an unprecedented rebuke of Christie.

That leaves Christie one more nomination. So, governor, what about a South Jerseyan? Of all the diversity points Christie earns for his first two nominees, there is no geographical diversity. Kwon and Harris are from North Jersey - and all five sitting justices live north of Trenton.

Since August, when Justice Roberto A. Rivera-Soto of Haddonfield stepped down, the state Supreme Court has lacked a justice from the eight counties in the lower half of the state.

The last such geographical vacancy was in 2003, when John Wallace of Gloucester County joined the court and ended a 32-year South Jersey drought, according to records from the state Administrative Office of the Courts. Albert E. Burling of Camden served from the time the modern court was established, in 1948, until 1960; shortly thereafter, Vincent S. Haneman of Brigantine sat until 1971.

So would a Supreme Court justice really rule differently if he or she lived in the cute Philadelphia suburb of Moorestown in Burlington County, or the cute New York suburb of Morristown in Morris County? Are people in Washington Township (Gloucester County) different from people in Washington Township (Bergen County)?

Would they not eat their Wawa hoagies one bite at a time, just like us?

To read the full story, click here.

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