New Jersey Apportionment Commission
|This article or section may be slanted towards recent events. (June 2012)|
The New Jersey Apportionment Commission is a constitutionally-created ten-member commission responsible for apportioning the forty districts of the New Jersey Legislature. The commission is convened after each decennial U.S. Census, and the districts are to be in use for the legislative elections in the following ten years. The commission's members are appointed by the two most successful political parties in the previous gubernatorial election. Each party appoints five members. If the commission cannot agree to an apportionment plan in a timely manner, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey is to appoint an eleventh member as a tie-breaking vote.
The ten-member commission has a deadline of either February 1 in the year following the Census or one month from the release of the census data for New Jersey, whichever is later, to produce the new district apportionment. If the ten-member commission is unable to produce a new apportionment by that deadline, the Chief Justice is to appoint an eleventh member. After the appointment of the 11th member, the eleven-member commission has one month to produce the new district apportionment.
The 2011 Commission consists of five Democrats and five Republicans. The five Republican members are Assemblyman and former State Republican Chairman Jay Webber (serving as Co-Chair), former Assembly candidate Irene Kim Asbury (serving as Vice Co-Chair), State Senator Kevin J. O'Toole, Ocean County Republican Chair George Gilmore and Republican national committeeman Bill Palatucci. The five Democratic members are Assemblyman and State Democratic Chairman John Wisniewski (serving as Co-Chair), former Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez (serving as Vice Co-Chair), Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and State Senator Paul Sarlo.
The commission at the deadline was at an impasse. Alan Rosenthal, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University, was named the 11th member of the committee, a position that led to him playing the role of tie-breaker. Rosenthal, who describes himself as a moderate Democrat, has worked at the Eagleton Institute of Politics and has never held an elected office. He sat on two commissions for the redistricting of New Jersey's congressional districts for the House of Representatives in 1992 and 2001. Rosenthal was appointed by Chief Justice Rabner after his name appeared on lists of tie-breaking eleventh member candidates both parties produced at the request of Rabner.
On April 3, 2011, the day of the deadline, the commission voted 6 to 5 in favor of the Democrats' map (the five Democrats and Rosenthal voted for it, the five Republicans voted against). The result is the New Jersey Legislative Districts, 2011 apportionment.
A court case challenging the new districts map was dismissed in August 2011 by the New Jersey Supreme Court that found that population discrepancies between northern and southern counties in the state were "nowhere near that needed to support a cognizable legal claim for voter dilution" and the court made it "clear that splitting counties is no longer a basis to invalidate a map." An appeals challenge was rejected in September 2012.
- New Jersey Constitution of 1947. Article IV, Section III
- Tom Hester Sr. (2010-11-12). "Republicans named to panel reshaping New Jersey’s legislative districts with Democrats". newjerseynewsroom.com. Retrieved 2011-02-18.
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- Charles Hack (February 14, 2011). "Keep our legislative districts intact, Hudson County politicians testify to Apportionment Commission". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved 2011-02-18.
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