As reported by nj.com, the state wants to keep taking increasing pension and health benefits contributions from Superior Court judges and Supreme Court justices while it appeals a judge’s ruling that the hikes are unconstitutional.
The state Attorney General’s Office filed a motion to postpone implementation of Superior Court Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg’s ruling blocking the higher pension and health benefit payments for the judges and justices, spokesman Paul Loriquet said.
The first increased contributions under Governor Chris Christie’s new plan were taken from the judges’ October 14 paychecks. Feinberg’s ruling would have stopped those hikes from being deducted from their future bi-weekly checks, but the state wants to continue with those higher collections during the appeals process.
Feinberg rules judges and justices are exempt from paying more because a provision in the state Constitution prohibits their salaries from being “diminished” during their terms. Feinberg did not agree with the state’s contention that increasing pension and health benefits contributions does not constitute a reduction in their pay, infuriating Christie, who denounced the ruling as “self-interested and outrageous.”
Christie called for a constitutional amendment to allow for a reduction of judges’ salaries, but Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver sad they don’t support calling for a vote on it, preferring to see how it is handled in the courts.
Feinberg has been criticized for ruling on a case that affects her, but case law allows judges to hear cases that directly affect them when there is no other appropriate court to address the matter. She has not set a date yet to hear the motion.