As reported by nj.com, New Jersey voters will get the last word on whether state judges can be forced to pay more for their pensions and health care. A question on the November 6th ballot asks voters to amend the state constitution to allow a 2011 law to be applied to judges and
NJ Supreme Court Rules Judges Don’t Have to Contribute More For Health Care and Pensions
As reported by nj.com, a divided State Supreme Court said judges and justices don’t have to chip in more for their pension and health benefits like other state workers because New Jersey’s Constitution prevents them from having their pay cut. The 3-2 decision drew swift responses from the leaders of New Jersey’s two other branches of government, which last year enacted a law requiring higher contributions from state workers.
Governor Chris Christie called it a case of “liberal activist judges running amok” while Democrats who run the state Legislature said they may ask voters to change the state constitution to force judges to pay more. The state’s bar association, however, called it a win for judicial independence, saying judges “will remain free from political retaliation when judges make an unpopular but just decision.”
The highly anticipated decision, which affects most of the more than 375 Superior Court judges and Supreme Court justices who were on the bench when the law went into effect, strikes at a key component of Christie’s effort to trim spending on employee salaries and benefits and stabilize pension plans.
The Court said making judges contribute more for their benefits constitutes a pay cut, and that the state Constitution forbids the other branches from reducing judges’ salaries to make sure they are not punished for making unpopular decisions. “Whatever good motivation the Legislature may have had when enacting (the law) with its broad application to all state public employees, the framers’ message is clear,” the Court said. “The constitution forbids the reduction of a justice or judge’s take-home salary during the term of his or her appointment.”
Superior Court Judge Paul DePascale brought the challenge, saying his pension and health contributions would increase by more than five times after a seven-year phase in. The State argued health benefits and pensions are part of a total compensation package and should not be considered as salary. But the majority of the justices said the terms “salary” and “compensation” were used interchangeably by the framers of the state Constitution and every time lawmakers imposed pension requirements on judges, it included a corresponding pay raise.…
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NJ Senate Committee Approves Measure Allowing Voters To Decide Judges’ Health, Pension Benefits
As reported by nj.com, the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a measure that would let voters decide if judges should pay more for health and pension benefits.
The committee had planned to delay acting on the measure until the state Supreme Court rules on the matter, which is expected soon. Instead, the full Senate …
NJ Supreme Court To Rule On Whether To Increase Judges’ Health Insurance, Pension Contributions
As reported by nj.com, the New Jersey Supreme Court is expected to decide soon whether judges should be required to pay more into their pension and health benefits, but lawmakers want the issue to go to the voters.
With a Senate panel poised to take up the issue Thursday, Assembly lawmakers want a …
Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Judges’ Health Insurance, Pension Lawsuit
As reported by nj.com, in a case that could affect the NJ Supreme Court itself, a state judge tried to stop Governor Chris Christie from increasing the cost of pensions and health care benefits for judges and justices. Taking the case directly from the lower court, the Supreme Court will decide whether a new …
NJ Judge Takes Pension Fight to NJ Supreme Court
As reported by nj.com, the question of whether Governor Chris Christie and the Legislature can order judges to pay 9 percent more toward their pensions is headed to the New Jersey Supreme Court. The justices will hear arguments today in a case brought by Superior Court Judge Paul DePascale of Hudson County.
DePascale hopes …
Christie’s Constitutional Amendment On Judges’ Pay Gets No Support From Leaders
As reported by nj.com, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver have no plans to post a constitutional amendment ensuring judges are subject to increases in pension and benefit payments proposed by Governor Chris Christie. “I am not inclined to support pursuing a constitutional amendment,” Oliver said. “It sets a very unhealthy …
Judge Rules State Pension, Benefits Overhaul Does Not Apply To NJ Judges
As reported by nj.com, Superior Court judges and Supreme Court justices, protected by the state Constitution from salary reductions while in office, are exempt from Governor Chris Christie’s new pension and health benefits plan requiring them to contribute a larger share of their salary, a judge ruled yesterday.
Christie immediately lashed out …
NJ Towns To Save $267M In Pension Costs Thanks To New Law
As reported by nj.com, the Christie administration touted big savings for local governments because of pension reforms as state employees and a judge tussled over lawsuits challenging new requirements for them to pay more their benefits.
The controversial public benefits overhaul, signed by Governor Chris Christie in June, shifts a greater share of …
NJ Supreme Court Won’t Rush To Hear Judge’s Challenge of Pension Overhaul
As reported by nj.com, a Superior Court judge challenging the increased payments judges must make under newly-enacted changes to public worker health and pension benefit plans will not be allowed to have his case directly sent to the New Jersey Supreme Court. In a two-paragraph order issued yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Virginia …