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Court Rejects N.J. Recall|Law as Unconstitutional

TRENTON, N.J. (CN) - Voters cannot recall a sitting U.S. senator, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled.

Robert Menendez, D-N.J., was elected to the Senate in 2006. A committee later formed to recall him, but then-Secretary of State Nina Wells replied that such an effort would be unconstitutional.

The New Jersey appellate division reversed that ruling, forcing Kim Guadagno, the current secretary of state, to deal with the committee's recall effort. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner reversed the appellate division's ruling.

"According to the historical debates at the Constitutional Convention, the framers considered and rejected a right to recall," Rabner wrote for the lead opinion. "Many delegates at the both the Constitutional Convention and the state ratifying conventions specifically highlighted that recall was not part of the proposed new constitution."

Therefore, the 1993 amendment to the state constitution, which authorized the recall of state officials and congressional representatives, violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, according to Rabner's ruling, which was joined by three other justices.

"The plain language of the federal Constitution suggests that a senator's term is fixed and that any right to prevent a senator from completing his or her term is vested in the Senate, not the states," Rabner wrote.

Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto and Helen Hoens issued a dissenting opinion.

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