A New Jersey appeals court just threw a real curveball to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), handing down a ruling that a Tea Party-led recall effort against him can go forward — or at least it can go forward if this decision isn’t reversed on appeal.
The court stayed its own decision, pending an expected appeal by Menendez, so the recall effort cannot actually go forward as of yet. Menendez’s lawyer Marc Elias — perhaps best known for having been Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) lead attorney during the Minnesota recount and election contest — argues that the United States Constitution does not allow the recall of a federal lawmaker.Even if the recall effort were allowed after all appeals were exhausted, it would still face a very high bar. New Jersey law requires a recall campaign to gather the signatures of 25 percent of all registered voters in the affected district. This means that with New Jersey’s 5.2 million registered voters, recall organizers would need 1.3 million signatures.
Late Update: Menendez attorney Marc Elias released this statement: “We are disappointed with today’s decision. The US Constitution is clear that a Senator’s term is 6 years and is not subject to recall. The State Attorney General correctly argued before the court that a recall is unconstitutional and a clear disservice to voters who take part in a petition process that is invalid. We are pleased the court stayed this opinion until the appeals process is completed.”
Late Late Update: Menendez released this statement: “This an organization trying to undemocratically and unconstitutionally overturn an election in which more than 2 million New Jerseyans voted. This political stunt won’t stop me from fighting for struggling middle class families, even when it means taking on very powerful interests. My focus continues to be on job-creation legislation and delivering a successful extension of my local property tax relief bill, which will provide property tax relief for 400,000 homeowners in New Jersey.”