Poll: Should Judges Pay More for Health Benefits?

Legislature overwhelmingly votes to allow citizens to decide whether to change state Constitution

The state's voters will decide this fall whether the New Jersey Constitution should be amended to allow legislators to force members of the judiciary to pay more for their health and pension benefits.

Only three members of the Legislature voted against the measure, which was swiftly passed after a divided state Supreme Court ruled that requiring greater contributions is tantamount to a pay cut, forbidden by the Constitution. 

"Rarely has the public seen such unanimity between the legislative and executive branches that the judicial branch was dead wrong," Gov. Chris Christie told the Star-Ledger. 

The top court's majority ruled that the Constitution's prohibition on pay cuts protects the judiciary from partisan meddling while the state argued that health and pension benefits cannot be considered salary.

What do you think? Should the Constitution be amended? Should judges be forced to shoulder a greater share of their benefits? Take our poll and tell us in the comments.   

steph August 01, 2012 at 01:33 PM
if the judges are making a self-seving decision here, how are we to know that they are making the right decisions in court!
GB Shore August 01, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Well, Mac, we agree to disagree. you view Christie as the same, run opf the mill politician. I totally disagree, so lets' just leave it there....
Mac August 01, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Wow! Governor Christie touting a 10% tax cut for over two years as a headline event is the 'small picture?' He is going to make the full pension payments when the huge deficit is over? Popular class warfare talk? My 'small mind' often believes one small change can make a difference, but not in this situation. This situation needs a 'big change.' We need a Governor that has the ability to lead, not just 'bellyache.' And yes, respect goes two ways. However, I’m not going to call you any names for having a different opinion.
GB Shore August 01, 2012 at 01:39 PM
well, this is a good point....all the way up to the Supreme Court where judges, instead of APPLYING THE LAWS AS THEY ARE WRITTEN not find it in vogue to interpret them and include their own personal views on the matter....VERY slippery slope....
Bob Plunkett August 01, 2012 at 01:48 PM
You are very naive...it happens every day in the real world. Only government employees expect to get things that were promised 20 years ago when they were hired for the rest of their lives. I used to have free medical back then...not today. I had pension plans...gone replaced with 401Ks that I contribute to myself. When the world changes, these things have to change. It is unfair and unjust for government employees to expect this when the people who are paying for theirs also have to pay for their own. But don't worry...even if they even do change this so that they have to pay their own way like most people do, they will "grandfather" everyone in so we will all still have to pay. Time to move out of this state, then let them figure out how to pay for this themselves.
GB Shore August 01, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Jesus H. C---st Mac.....Bellyache????? Yes, this is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things and your myopic view in my view lends no cedibility in the argument for what we face. So all the other changes he has been proposing and big part of that is the public workers, means nothing? That is sitting around bellyaching? We need to funda,mentally change the way we do things in this state and THAT is what he is doing. It takes time but you have no patience and are just another whiner in my view. To say he is bellyaching and not leading is just wrong...you have blinders on....what, next you will tell me what a great leader Corzine was.....or McGreevey....C'mon already.....
proud August 01, 2012 at 01:56 PM
GB Shore, whole I agree with you about the sandwich, you are mistaken about the bread. The pension woes of New Jersey began with the Pension Revaluation Act of 1992, with Governor Jim Florio as the architect. This has forever since changed what the "assumed " rate of return is for contributions by the state to the fund. All subsequent governors have manipulated this process one way or the other with a smoke and mirrors approach to funding. The typical liberal rant is to blame Whitman for creating this mess, but they are wrong. Perhaps, they just want to blame a Republican for their "entitlement", which is clearly unsustainable. No matter, it's whatever is in it for them. Look how junior public sector union members have been thrown under the bus for the proffer of their predecessors. it is quite possible that the underfunding will ever be paid, which is why a total overhaul of the pension fund is required. There never should have been a defined benefit pension fund, as once again, it assumes a rate of return, notwithstanding a gain or loss in the underlying investments of said fund. The paying of monies that don't exist, or bonding to make a pittance, mortgages the future generations and is the real attack on the middle class. The first step to actually stop this hemorrhaging of taxpayer dollars is to abolish the antiquated and sinfully deficient Civil Service System that rewards seniority rather than efficiency the taxpayers of New Jersey deserve better.
Mac August 01, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Apparently GB, you are going to be the last one to leave NJ. Please turn out the lights. And good luck. (P.S. I would love to be wrong about Gov. Christie and his abilities. Unfortunately, the credibility of his two second rate handlers overshadows any faith in improving the state of affairs in NJ, and his actions [or lack of actions] in his previous employment does nothing to improve that faith.)
Autobosn August 01, 2012 at 03:19 PM
When I joined the military over 30 years ago I was told myself and my family would receive health care for life, that has changed and I now pay for medical and have since I retired, I cannot use the Military Treatment Facilities like I used to either. I do get a pension (albeit a small one) but it will never compare to what these high and mighty judge's will get. Fair is fair, if I have to pay more out of my pocket why should'nt they? If they do not start paying for their benefits guess who does... ALL OF US! It is about time we have a Governor who is willing to "buck the system" and make things fair. Hey! I got a raise this year but guess what? They increased my health care the exact amount of my raise, how about that!
grace August 01, 2012 at 03:34 PM
good point samantha! also they double dip with pensions from every town they go to...case in point mr murray from toms river....
GB Shore August 01, 2012 at 03:42 PM
no Mac....I already have my exit strategy and a place to go as soon as my kids are done with college in a few years, so once again, you make an assumption based not on facts, but what suppositions....if you can't see the difference between him and other before him, that is your issue, not mine.
David Daur August 01, 2012 at 04:07 PM
I'm very curious if someone could explain to me how forcing greater contributions threatens the judiciary's independence.
Mac August 01, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I once made an assumption that an U.S Attorney was actually going to make a difference in the integrity of NJ politics. Then that attorney came to Ocean County, where he eagerly accepted the endorsement and financing for his next job. Mike Ritacco was even his selection for his Education Commissioner before the next U.S Attorney indicted him for 20+ years of open corruption. Then when the former U.S. Attorney got his new job, he put the heat on the South Jersey 'shadow governments' and got the necessary funding for a run at a national office. Yes, I have made assumptions not based on fact before. However, I'm trying to limit my current assumptions to the current deeds of those I have assumptions about. Apparently, my issue is I don't see any difference between Christie and the others before him. I just see another path of deception. Perhaps I'll follow the Governor's lead on this one and reconsider my opinions about his intentions 'when I get around to it.'
Opinionated August 01, 2012 at 06:35 PM
I see a lot of varying opinions here. Some blame the judges, some Christie (which makes no sense), and some even defend the judges by saying they need to be independent. You are still wasting everyone's time because the process to put judges on the bench is corrupt and therefore most are tainted before they even start whether they deserve it or not! Their job, by the State Constitution, is to INTERPRET THE LAW not create it. Many of the problems NJ faces today were created by judges who overstep their power. The only way to put an end to this madness is to hold them accountable for their actions. Since the Legislature is either unable or unwilling to correct their mistakes it time for the people to step forward and say NO!! It is disappointing that many on this site cannot see that.
proud August 01, 2012 at 06:57 PM
If you read the article Opinionated, you will see that the matter in question will be a referendum question in November. The legislature (atypically) voted overwhelmingly to do so, though only 60% approval is needed to move it forward. I think that the taxpayer will put a notch in the bedpost on this one, for a change.
GB Shore August 01, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I see Mac...so he is now held accountable and responsible for actions by others that he had no knowledge about....I see.....you are the quintessential Monday Morning Quarterback....you are the "glass is half empty" guy......I grew up in probably the most corrupt city and county in north Jersey, so living here in NJ it is very easy to be cynical like you are...however, having been exposed to all of this, I look at it like I can spot a crook and politician, for the most part, from a mile away. Is Christie perfect? Nope....neither are you and neither am I. But to say he is like the rest is just simply false. You are trying to tie together what you THINK you know together as facts when in fact, they are not facts. So, if you are gong to hold him accountable, then I could say perhaps that you should be held accountable for the mistakes and wrongs that have gone on around you....that is silly and that is how your comment sounds as well.....that's why being a Monday Morning QB is so unappealing. Let's agree to disagree and move on about Christie.
Mac August 01, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Silly me. I guess if I looked at my glass as half-full, as you put it, I too would believe that a U.S. Attorney investigating political corruption in Ocean County was unable to find any other wrongdoing than the small handful of goats provided for him from a meeting in Gilmore's office. However, being a 'quintessential Monday morning quarterback,' I'll retain my view that 'actions by others that he had no knowledge about' is 'life viewed through rose-colored glasses.' While I didn't grow up in the most corrupt city and county in NJ, I'll have to assume it's the reason you need to call and label those who disagree with you less-than-charming names to try and make a point, then attempt to end the conversation and change the subject. Perhaps I'll try to entertain that reasoning next Monday, during my weekly quarterback session. I hope that doesn’t make me more ‘cynical.’
GB Shore August 01, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I did not call you any names Mac...there you go again....I simply stated what I believed you were doing (Monday QB) as well as how I felt, based on your comments, how you view the world (half empty). I stated explicitly TWICE that we can agree to disagree. That went over your head, or you just ignored it because you THOUGHT I was calling you names...clearly, I was not. THIRD TIME....we can agree to disagree and leave it at that. Not changing the subject, just want to get off this merry go round with you. I'm ALWAYS up for an objective debate. I just don't see any objectivity here...only preconceived notions about anyone who serves in office....talk about colored glasses...you see them all under the same color and IMHO have any objectivity...
Mac August 01, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Ahhhhh .................................................WOW!
Opinionated August 01, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Sorry proud, where does it say that we make judges have to be elected by the people? That's what my point is.
Fred M August 01, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Also, what is sad is some of the Judges were not successful Attorneys...There are lots of attorneys that apply for Judgeships...They lobby for appointments.. Basically, we do not have the smartest people on the Bench...
WMS826 August 02, 2012 at 02:58 AM
No, judges are way better than us,the commoners of whom they preside over. Why should they be subjected to their own rule of law. Let them eat cake while we the judiciary decide your fate and or own....no surprise we find inour favor on this one and how dare you questin us. Now just keep blindly voting democrat and everything will be ok.
oldsoldier August 02, 2012 at 06:41 AM
Yours may be the most significant post of this thread.
oldsoldier August 02, 2012 at 06:50 AM
I think Steph said just about all that needs to be said...I would like to throw out this little tidbit though. I think the judiciary used a 1978 amendment to the NJ Constitution for this decision as I believe Lou Z hinted at. It occurs to me that any laws made to make the judiciary pay more could be ruled unconstitutional by them, too. Contact your representatives about amending the NJ Constitution.
somebody August 07, 2012 at 02:06 PM
patrick allgor September 03, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Why should they get a break !!
Marlboro Mann October 04, 2012 at 09:24 PM
They should pay. After all, they make us pay for everything else COAH, ABBOTS, etc
alinsky October 04, 2012 at 09:46 PM
ELIMINATE ALL PENSIONS!! $4 Billion in immediate tax relief!!! Let's vote. It's our money and we want to vote on how it's spent.
George Clark October 16, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Wow! I guess they should have judged not because now it's there turn to be judged. i see we all are in agreement that lawyers and judges are a bunch of crooks paid to distort or hide the truth. The supreme court with jobs for life is a total disgrace and very stupid way to run our judicial system. These holier then us judges should be brought back down to earn. Let's strip them of their so called honor and see what they are really hiding under their robes. lol
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