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NJ Senator Menendez Blocks Obama Judicial Nominee

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
January 6, 2012

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New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is blocking President Obama’s nomination of a federal magistrate to be on the powerful Third Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s the first time a fellow Democrat is stalling one of the President’s judicial selections.

Menendez says judge Patty Schwartz did not demonstrate a breadth of knowledge about constitutional law in responding to his legal questions. He’s using a procedure known as senatorial courtesy to prevent the nomination from moving ahead.

LaSalle University provost Joe Marbach does not expect the action to result in long-term damage to the relationship between the President and New Jersey’s senior Senator.

“The President is facing a tough re-election. Senator Menendez is facing a tough re-election. So the two of them have certainly that shared interest. So I think they’ll work together, and the President will need New Jersey if he wants to get re-elected. So I don’t really think this will have any lasting negative impacts on the state.”

Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison says while Menendez ‘s decision may strain his relations with the President, it probably won’t hurt the Senator’s reelection campaign.

“It may be kind of an interesting footnote, but I think that people are concerned when it comes to federal politics about those kind of bread and butter pocketbook issues, and I think that those are going to be the things on which most people base their votes on rather than this rather small facet of his political career.”

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