After Democrats and Republicans told state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner Thursday that they were unable to reach an agreement on a new map of New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts, he named Rutgers University Prof. Alan Rosenthal to play the role of tiebreaker.
Rosenthal, 78, a public policy professor, had been expected to receive the appointment of tiebreaker for months. Neither the Democrats nor Republicans had any objections to the appointment.
The professor is chairman if the legislative ethics committee and served twice as the tie-breaking member of the U.S. House redistricting commission, in 1992 and 2001. He has spent his career studying state legislatures.
“Alan Rosenthal has garnered a reputation near and wide as an impartial authority on government and ethics,” Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex) said. He holds an inherent love for the democratic process and ensuring that process works for everyone, not just a select few. We are at an impasse right now with Republicans insisting on creating a new legislative map that packs minorities into a few districts and dilutes their voice. We are desperately in need of a reasoned authority who understands the importance of a fair and equitable map.
“This decision will impact the very fate of countless residents over the next ten years. Republicans may have no problem disenfranchising whole constituencies, but we will not tolerate it,” Oliver added. “With the appointment of Alan Rosenthal, I’m confident that this disagreement can now find just settlement.”
The redistricting commission had one month to redraw the legislative districts, which is done once every 10 years. The new districts are expected to play a major role in which party controls the Senate and Assembly beginning in January.
Ten years ago, Democrats outmaneuvered Republicans in the remapping, an action that helped lead to Democratic control of the Legislature. Since then, the Republicans have been preparing for years to draw what they describe as a “fair and constitutional map.”
The process of redrawing New Jersey’s congressional districts will begin in June. The number of districts will decline from 13 to 12 because the state’s population has not expanded as quickly as states in the west and south.