Nancy Solomon, Managing Editor, New Jersey Public Radio
Nancy Solomon is the Managing Editor of New Jersey Public Radio.
New Jersey's Supreme Court says the state's judges don't have to contribute more to their pensions and health benefits, as is currently required of all other state employees.
Tuesday's 3-2 ruling means New Jersey judges are exempt from pension reforms that cost state employees more money.
A state Superior Court judge in Hudson County challenged the Christie administration supported legislation by citing a law that says judges' salaries cannot be reduced.
Attorneys for the state argued that law doesn't apply to compensation, such as pension and health benefits.
Gov. Chris Christie has been critical of judges who have opposed it. He has said he would consider putting the issue before voters in November if the courts didn't rule his way.
Many Democrats in the legislature agree with Christie.
"No one should be treated differently," Senate President Steve Sweeney said. "The pension system of our judges can go bankrupt just as easily as any."
But the New Jersey Bar Association called the decision unpopular but just, saying it shows why judges must remain free from any whiff of political retaliation, including having their pay and benefits held sacrosanct.
"This decision is about maintaining the integrity of the judiciary and confirming the right of every resident to resolve disputes in an independent court system, where experienced judges apply the law and the facts of the case objectively,” the organization said in a statement.