New Jersey court hears arguments to recall senator

* NJ voters should decide on Democrat’s recall, group says

* Menendez’ side argues for protection from “passions”

By Jon Hurdle

TRENTON, New Jersey, May 25 (BestGrowthStock) – New Jersey voters
should be allowed to decide whether to seek removal of
Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Menendez from office because of
his support for national healthcare reform and other measures,
a recall group argued in court on Tuesday.

The recall group, which emerged from a local branch of the
conservative Tea Party movement, appeared before the New Jersey
state Supreme Court to argue that the state constitution allows
for senators to be removed from office if they violate that
constitution.

“The New Jersey constitution implies that all political
power resides in the people,” said Andrew Schlafly, attorney
for the Committee to Recall Robert Menendez from the Office of
U.S. Senator. “The people have the fundamental say, and
legislators are their spokesmen.”

The initiative to recall Menendez stemmed from his support
for health and immigration reform and for cap-and-trade
legislation to curb industrial emissions of greenhouse gases,
recall supporters said.

Supporters of the recall initiative claim Menendez’s votes
increased federal deficits. The Tea Party movement, which
argues for smaller government and lower taxes, opposed the
healthcare reform signed into law by President Barack Obama.

In court, the New Jersey group cited a 1787 letter by
George Washington, who later became president, saying if
elected representatives acted against the wishes of the voters,
“their servants can, and undoubtedly will, be recalled.”

Menendez’ attorney Mark Elias argued that the framers of
the U.S. Constitution debated the idea of recall but omitted it
in order to protect sitting senators from short-term political
pressures.

“The idea was not to have the senators subject to the
passions of the electorate on any given day,” Elias told the
panel of six justices. He also argued that the U.S. Supreme
Court has ruled that under the U.S. Constitution, states must
yield to the federal government.

The court is expected to issue its ruling in coming months.
Similar recall initiatives are underway in Louisiana, North
Dakota and Colorado, where conservative activists are looking
to New Jersey for a lead on the issue.

A New Jersey recall initiative would require gathering 1.3
million signatures within 320 days to put a ballot question to
voters, asking if they want to remove the senator from office.

If the initiative is permitted, the recall group said that
1,400 volunteers would seek the signatures.

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New Jersey court hears arguments to recall senator