Appeals court upholds denial of special election for NJ governor

The US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling that a special election was not needed to replace New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey, who announced his resignation in August and will step down Nov. 15. The court held that the office was not yet been officially vacated by McGreevey. Under state law, if McGreevey left office before Sept. 3, a special interim election would be held Nov. 2 to elect his replacement. However, following the appeals court's ruling, NJ Senate President Richard J. Codey, a Democrat like McGreevey, will replace him for the duration of the term. In a per curiam opinion, the 3rd Circuit wrote:

Under New Jersey law, a resignation is not valid unless it is in writing and filed in the office of the Secretary of State. "No resignation made in any other way or pretended to be made, shall be valid." N.J. Stat. Ann. 52:14-10. Plaintiffs have cited no statutory provision to the contrary, relying instead on the argument that McGreevey’s public announcement is "functionally far more definitive and final than would be a letter of resignation quietly and privately delivered to a government official." But the New Jersey legislature has set forth what constitutes a "definitive and final" resignation. McGreevey’s announcement has not satisfied these statutory requirements. By requiring a written filing with the Secretary of State – a clear and concrete manifestation of resignation – the legislature has assured clarity in the resignation process. Because Governor McGreevey has not yet officially resigned from the office of the Governor, there is no vacancy under the New Jersey Constitution.
Read the full opinion [PDF]. The two Princeton attorneys who brought the case said they may appeal the ruling to the US Supreme Court. AP has more.

 

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