Public Question No. 2 on the Nov. 6 ballot seeks to amend the New Jersey Constitution with the ultimate effect of reducing the take-home pay of sitting New Jersey judges. An Oct. 26 article said the public question was "facing little organized opposition." There is a very good reason why there is little organized opposition to the measure. The very targets of the constitutional amendment are strictly precluded by the Code of Judicial Conduct from taking part in any form of political activity, which would include organizing opposition to the amendment that will serve to reduce their salaries. The judiciary is in a predicament tantamount to Ryan Howard having to step up to home plate against Justin Verlander without a bat in his hands.
The New Jersey Constitution strictly forbids the executive and legislative branches of government from lowering the salaries of sitting judges. The policy behind that restriction should be clear to any rational, thinking person.
The independence of the judiciary has increasingly come under attack in recent years, starting with the governor's refusal to reappoint Supreme Court Justice John Wallace. Wallace, besides having one of the keenest legal minds in the country, was a quality person whose only transgression was to decide cases in a manner he deemed just, even when it didn't conform to the governor's views.
Public Question No. 2 is not necessary and was fast-tracked onto the ballot in a cavalier manner. The changes should apply only to future judges, who will take their appointments knowing what their compensation packages will provide them. But the governor and the Legislature should refrain from changing the rules for sitting judges.
A judiciary free from interference from the other two branches of government is critical to an orderly society. This proposed constitutional amendment serves to further undermine judicial independence.
To quote the late Justice Harry Blackmun, "A chill wind blows." Vote "no" on Public Question No. 2.
MICHAEL A. GILL