At Last! An Agreement is Reached for Governor Murphy to Re-Nominate Rachel Wainer Apter and Nominate Judge Fasciale for Supreme Court Seats

After much delay, an agreement has been reached under which Governor Murphy will re-nominate Rachel Wainer Apter, whom he nominated to fill a Supreme Court seat nearly eighteen months ago, to the Supreme Court. He will nominate Judge Fasciale for another open Supreme Court seat. This will be a “package deal,” as Ms. Apter is a Democrat and Judge Fasciale a Republican. If both nominees are confirmed, the Court would have three Democrats (Chief Justice Rabner and Justices Pierre-Louis and Wainer Apter) and three Republicans (Justices Patterson, Solomon, and Fasciale). One seat would remain open, and Governor Murphy should promptly make a nomination to bring the Court back to full strength.

Both nominees are superbly qualified. Ms. Wainer Apter’s excellent credentials were discussed here. A graduate of Seton Hall Law School, Judge Fasciale has been on the bench since 2004, when he was named to the Superior Court bench in Union County. After sitting in the Civil, Family, and Criminal Parts there, Judge Fasciale was promoted to the Appellate Division in 2010. Earlier this summer, Chief Justice Rabner appointed Judge Fasciale as one of three Appellate Division judges to sit temporarily in the Supreme Court beginning on September 1, given the three vacancies that then existed on the Court.

In my appearances before Judge Fasciale, he has always been prepared and has homed in on the key issues in his questioning. His many well-written published opinions for the Appellate Division amply prepare him for a role on the Supreme Court.

It is unfortunate that it took this long to reach this deal. It was clear to many people a number of months ago that a package of Ms. Wainer Apter and a Republican would make sense. In particular, Judge Fasciale’s name as a potential nominee had been floated months ago. But, to coin a phrase, “better late than never.”