Monday, August 22, 2011

New Jersey Democrats seriously considered recalling Gov. Christie

The New Jersey Democrats apparently seriously considered trying to recall Christie. I would have thought the signature requirement (the would need 1.3 million valid signatures) would be almost an absolute barrier to all but the most non-partisan recalls. The state does have an exceptionally lenient time period to gather signatures (270 days -- EDIT -- it is 320 days), but still very hard to do.

According to the article, one of the big hurdles for Democrats was the question of whether the recall would also affect the Lieutenant Governor. The Democrats assumed that the recall would remove the LG (a Republican who ran on the same ticket as Christie). Wisconsin faces the same question. (it was not an issue in California, because the LG was elected separately). However, I don't see the legal argument that the recall would remove LGs.

Why would the recall operate differently than an impeachment? The recall laws talk about recalling "any Elected Official in the state," not elected officials plural. Why would the courts assume that a recall hits both officials, simply because of they were elected on the same ticket? Are there other examples of the recall operating this way (maybe there are mayoral tickets in some states)? Furthermore, what happens if you recall a same ticket Lieutenant Governor (a number of them are extremely unpopular) -- by this logic, the governor would also be kicked out.

That being said, New Jersey courts have been willing to go out on a limb in recall cases, (a New Jersey Appellate Court ruled that state voters could recall Senator Robert Menendez, a decision that was overturned by the NJ Supreme Court with a 4-2 vote. I do not know of another court that allowed a federal level recall). So who knows how they would rule.

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