(CN) – A conservative tea party group must wait 45 days before gathering signatures to recall Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey appeals court ruled. Menendez was elected in November 2006, and his term is scheduled to expire on Jan. 3, 2013.
The Committee to Recall Robert Menendez from the Office of U.S. Senator filed its recall petition in September 2009.
It did not request a special election date for the recall vote and also never specified why it wanted Menendez to be recalled.
New Jersey Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells refused to accept the petition on Jan. 11, citing a lack of authority to recall a federal official.
The New Jersey Appellate Division, in a per-curiam ruling, overturned her decision, citing the constitutional amendment the state’s voters passed in 1993.
That amendment authorized New Jersey voters to recall U.S. Senate or House members after one year of service.
However, rather than allow the committee to begin collecting signatures, the justices ruled that Melendez would have time to appeal the decision.
“The court is disinclined to allow the process to go forward, and the citizens of this state to believe they are participating in a recall process, if it is that the court will have to decide, shortly thereafter, if the process is manifestly unconstitutional,” they wrote.