Monday, January 18, 2010

Reply to a Letter to the Editor,

(This is in response to a letter submitted to the Editor of The New Jersey Herald that was printed on January 13, 2010.)

In a recent letter to you dated January 13th, Daniel Palmer stated that I implied that the NJ Constitution trumps the US Constitution. I said no such thing. Mr. Palmer missed the point. The issue before the court concerns the Secretary of State Nina Well’s disregard of New Jersey law. As a member of the Executive branch and not the Judicial branch of government, she has taken it upon herself to declare the NJ Constitution unconstitutional. She is not a judge and does not have the right to make such a determination. Her authority in this regard is strictly clerical in nature.

Mrs. Wells, who is a close friend to Governor Corzine and a key democratic fundraiser, was appointed to her post in January 2006 by Corzine. The broader issue before the people of New Jersey is whether they will continue to permit those in Trenton to nullify the law when politically expedient. Whether or not one agrees with the reasons given to recall Menendez, hopefully all agree that NJ citizens should not be denied their constitutional rights – especially by administrative personnel.

The Committee to Recall Senator Menendez submitted the Notice of Intention to Recall at the end of September under the procedures set forth in New Jersey’s Uniform Recall Election Law. The law was passed to implement the 1993 Amendment to the NJ Constitution that provides for a recall of US Senators in NJ. The Secretary of State is to review the Notice to check to see if the form is properly filled out. After reviewing the paperwork for conformity, the Secretary of State is required to either approve or reject the Notice within three days. If she rejects the paperwork at that time, she must identify the problems and allow the committee to amend and resubmit the Notice. None of this has been done. In this case, Mrs. Wells has chosen not to obey the laws of NJ and on January 11th, issued a “final determination” stating that the US Constitution does not allow for a recall.

According to the NJ Constitution, once the Notice is approved the Committee circulates the petitions amongst registered voters in the State who support the Recall effort. Only if and when the Committee collects the necessary number of signatures can a recall election be scheduled. All else up until and including the recall election itself could be considered political speech, which is entitled to the most strenuous protection against government suppression.

The Secretary of State, in this case, has set herself up as judge and jury and ruled on matters of constitutionality, which she is not qualified nor authorized to do. This is nothing less than an abuse of power and an attempt to stall the Recall initiative. The people of NJ should be outraged that the Secretary of State has attempted to deny its citizens due process and freedom of speech.

This matter is far from over and our lawyers are prepared to go the distance to ensure that the good people of NJ are not denied their rights. On January 13th, our lawyers filed an application to File Appeal on an Emergent Basis. The Appeal requested a reversal of the Secretary of State’s “final determination” and an order directing the Secretary of State to approve the Notice of Intention to permit the Committee to begin collection signatures. On January 14th, the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division issued an order allowing a motion to accelerate the appeal. On January 15th, our lawyers filed a Notice of Appeal and Case Information Statement. The matter is currently waiting to be heard by the court.

RoseAnn Salanitri

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