All information or remarks concerning the character or qualifications of any person nominated by the Governor which are brought to the attention of the Judiciary Committee or other appropriate committee during its consideration of the nomination shall not be made public. (Senate Rule 20:4)
Each house shall choose its own officers, determine the rules of its proceedings, and punish its members for disorderly behavior. (New Jersey State Constitution, Article 4, Sec. 4, Par. 3)
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R- Union) and Senator Gerald Cardinale (R- Bergen), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement regarding the release and public discussion of documents pertaining to Supreme Court nominees Bruce Harris and Phil Kwon that are guaranteed confidentiality under Senate rules.
The Senators have sent a letter requesting an investigation and corrective action, including disciplinary proceedings for any Senator involved, to Senate President Stephen Sweeney:
The party or parties responsible for the leak of information provided by Bruce Harris and Phil Kwon on a confidential basis has not only damaged the integrity of the confirmation process, but has also called into question their own fitness to serve on a committee which routinely handles sensitive and deeply personal information pertaining to appointments.
It is now clear that one or more members of the Senate cannot discharge their duties in an impartial manner, and are attempting to prevent the Senate from giving these nominees due process based on personal bias.
I call on the Senate President to remedy the situation by requiring those responsible for the malicious release of privileged information to recuse themselves from voting on the nominees in committee and on the floor of the Senate.
Furthermore, the Senate President must accelerate confirmation proceedings. Doing so is the only way to restore integrity to the process, allow the nominees to answer Senators’ questions, and ensure the nominees are not made to twist in the wind in front of the press.
Whomever is responsible for releasing and publicly discussing the contents of privileged documents provided to the Judiciary Committee by Bruce Harris and Phil Kwon, under guarantee that the information they provided would be kept confidential, has committed a serious violation of the rules of the Senate.
It is incumbent upon the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to conduct a hearing to investigate this matter with all members under oath. Furthermore, should that investigation identify the party or parties responsible, it is incumbent upon the Senate President to uphold the rules of this body and discipline the appropriate member or members for disorderly conduct pursuant to the State Constitution.
The laws of our state provide that the Legislature police the conduct of its own members and adhere to rules it sets for itself. If we cannot, as a body, adhere to our own rules, we forfeit the moral authority to make laws for those who elected us to serve.