New Jersey Senate

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New Jersey Senate
New Jersey Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Term limits
New session started
January 14, 2014
Stephen M. Sweeney (D)
Since January 12, 2010
Loretta Weinberg (D)
Since January 10, 2012
Nia Gill (D)
Since January 12, 2010
Deputy Majority Leader
Paul Sarlo (D)
Since January 8, 2008
Thomas Kean, Jr. (R)
Since January 8, 2008
Seats 40
Diagram of state Senate 2012 New Jersey.svg
Political groups
Governing Party

Opposition Party

Length of term
2 or 4 years
Authority Article IV, New Jersey Constitution
Salary $49,000/year
Last election
November 5, 2013
(40 seats)
Next election
November 7, 2017
(40 seats)
Redistricting Legislative Control
Meeting place
New Jersey State Senate in action, June 2013.JPG
State Senate Chamber
New Jersey State House
Trenton, New Jersey
New Jersey State Legislature

The New Jersey Senate was established as the upper house of the New Jersey Legislature by the Constitution of 1844, replacing the Legislative Council. From 1844 until 1965 New Jersey's counties elected one Senator, each. Under the 1844 Constitution the term of office was three years. The 1947 Constitution changed the term to four years. Since 1968 it has consisted of 40 Senators, who are elected in a "2-4-4" cycle, representing districts with average populations of 210,359 (2000 figures). The "2-4-4" cycle was put into place so that Senate elections can reflect the changes made to the district boundaries on the basis of the decennial United States Census. (If the cycle were not put into place, then the boundaries would sometimes be four years out of date before being used for Senate elections. Rather, with the varied term, the boundaries are only two years out of date). Thus elections for Senate seats take place in years ending with a "1", "3" or "7" (i.e. next elections in 2017, 2021 and 2023).

Interim appointments are made to fill vacant legislative seats by the county committee or committees of the party of the vacating person (since a constitutional amendment passed on November 8, 1988). The office is on the ballot for the next general election (even if the other Senate seats are not up for election in that year, such as in years ending with a "5" or "9", such as 2009 or 2015), unless the vacancy occurred within 51 days of the election. Then the appointment stands until the following general election.

Senatorial courtesy

Senatorial courtesy is a Senate tradition that allows home county legislators to intercede to prevent consideration of a local resident nominated by the Governor for a position that requires Senate confirmation.[1] Any of the senators from the nominee's home county can invoke senatorial courtesy to block a nomination, temporarily or permanently, without any obligation to justify the basis of their actions.[2]

Governor Corzine nominated Stuart Rabner on June 4, 2007, to be the next Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, replacing James R. Zazzali, who was nearing mandatory retirement age.[3] Shortly after the nomination, two members of the Senate from Essex County, where Rabner resides, blocked consideration of his confirmation by invoking senatorial courtesy. State Senator Ronald Rice had initially blocked the nomination, but relented on June 15, 2007, after a meeting with the governor.[4] Nia Gill dropped her block on June 19, 2007, but did not explain the nature of her concerns, though anonymous lawmakers cited in The New York Times indicated that the objection was due to Rabner's race and Governor Corzine's failure to consider a minority candidate for the post.[1]

Also in June 2007, Loretta Weinberg used senatorial courtesy privileges to hold up consideration of a new term in office for Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.[2]

Acting governor

Until 2010, in the event of a gubernatorial vacancy, the New Jersey Constitution had specified that the President of the Senate (followed by the Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly) would assume the role of Acting Governor and retain their role in the Senate (or Assembly). An Acting Governor would then assume the governorship while retaining the reins of power in their house of the legislature.[citation needed]

The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey took office for the first time on January 19, 2010, following conjoint election with the Governor of New Jersey. The position was created as the result of a Constitutional amendment to the New Jersey State Constitution passed by the voters on November 8, 2005. While the amendment itself took effect as of January 17, 2006, and made some interim changes to the succession to the governorship, the first lieutenant governor was not elected until November 3, 2009.


Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
End of previous legislature 24 16 40 0
Begin 24 16 40 0
Latest voting share 60% 40%

List of New Jersey State Senators (by District)

  Democratic senator
  Republican senator

List of past Senate Presidents

The following is a list of past Presidents of the New Jersey Senate since the adoption of the 1844 State Constitution:[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Jones, Richard G. "Senator Drops Objections to Corzine Court Nominee", The New York Times, June 20, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2007. "Senator Gill had delayed Mr. Rabner’s confirmation hearing by using “senatorial courtesy” — an obscure practice through which senators who represent the home county of nominees may block consideration of their confirmations."
  2. 2.0 2.1 Carmiel, Oshrat. "Deadline looms for Molinelli's job", The Record (Bergen County), June 20, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2007. "Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli, whose term expired last month, may have to wait until the fall to be considered again for a second term if state Sen. Loretta Weinberg doesn't sign off on his nomination today.... Weinberg is invoking an unwritten practice called senatorial courtesy, which allows state senators to block consideration of gubernatorial nominees from their home counties without explanation. The courtesy tradition, as applied to Molinelli, requires each senator from Bergen County to sign off on his nomination before the Judiciary Committee can consider the nomination."
  3. "Source: Corzine picks Rabner as chief justice, Milgram as AG", Courier News, May 31, 2007. Accessed May 31, 2007.
  4. Associated Press. "Opposition Ebbs on Corzine Judge", The New York Times, June 15, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2007. "Ronald L. Rice, an Essex County Democrat and state senator, said yesterday that he would no longer block Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s nomination for chief justice of the State Supreme Court."
  5. Caffrey, Michelle. "First Latina legislator in N.J. Cruz-Perez steps into new role in state Senate", South Jersey Times, December 15, 2014. Accessed December 15, 2014. "Former Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez was sworn into the state Senate on Monday, filling the seat left vacant by U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross. Democrat Cruz-Perez, sworn in by Senate President Steve Sweeney, will represent the 5th district in the state legislature after Norcross was elected to replace former Congressman Rob Andrews."
  6. Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey. J.A. Fitzgerald. 1977.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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