May 25th, 2010
01:23 PM ET
10 years ago

Tea Party activists try to oust senator, NJ Supreme court hears case

 Tea party activists and conservatives are hoping to oust New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez from office.

Tea party activists and conservatives are hoping to oust New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez from office.

Washington (CNN) - On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of New Jersey heard a case brought by Tea party activists and conservatives hoping to oust New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez from his job.

The state's highest court heard arguments from the New Jersey Tea Party Patriots, and other conservative groups, on whether or not voters can recall the Democratic senator, who has two years left in his term. Among those participating in the case is Richard Luzzi, President of the Morristown Tea Party and a Republican candidate for Congress.

The activists cite Menendez's votes for the recently passed health care law, and his support of government spending, as reasons to recall him.

"By recalling Senator Menendez we are saying No to insane spending that has brought our state and our nation to the brink of bankruptcy," a website for Recall NJ states.

Their arguments must clear a big hurdle: do voters in a state have the right to recall a federal elected official?

While New Jersey has a state law allowing for the recall of federal office holders, the U.S. Constitution does not.

The New Jersey Tea Party activists argue their efforts are legal, claiming that the Constitution does not prohibit New Jersey's recall law.

But lawyers for Menendez believe the suit won't pass Constitutional muster. They cite the U.S. Constitution's requirement that a senator serve six years in office.

Menendez's office is also blasting the key Tea Party group fueling the lawsuit.

"This organization rejoices in candidates who call it 'un-American' to hold major foreign corporations accountable for damage they cause and who believe discrimination by private businesses should be legal," Menendez Communications Director Afshin Mohamadi said in a statement to CNN.

"They are opposing the U.S. Constitution in court and they are opposing the values of mainstream New Jersey families in the court of public opinion," he added.

Filed under: New Jersey • Robert Menendez • Tea Party movement
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. yoyoma

    if at any point any group of whackos can "recall" someone that was elected by a majority of the pop. of the state, then what is the point of an election? that is a disgrace to fare elections

    May 25, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  2. Dan

    Interesting case – if your elected representative is breeching the contract to represent the majority of the voting electorate (not the country as a whole), should the electorate be able to toss the representative?

    Hard issue but I say yes. The representative hasn't met the obligations of representation and thus has breeched a contract. NJ exit clause permits early termination of that contract if the elected official breechs it.

    May 25, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. Dustin

    This is disturbing. Of course I'm sure the Repubs who blasted the Dems for holding up the 2000 election results have no problem with this.

    May 25, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    If state law supercedes federal law, then does that means that any state that has not ratified ammendments to the Constitution can legally not abide by them? What would the requirements be to get it on a ballot initiative for the recall? Does New Jersey law then require a special election take place to fill the vacant seat or would the Republican Governor of the state then appoint one of his own cronies to the position. Or (shades of the Governator) would they run the special election concurrently with the recall vote?

    May 25, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. USA401

    If they "recall" a Senator we can kiss Democracy good by.

    May 25, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  6. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Very cool!

    The faster we can dump the incumbent turkeys, the better!

    (BTW, the US Constitution says only that, "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof..." (Seventeenth Amendment.) It doesn't say a word about recalls and that means it's entirely up to the states whether and how recalls can take place.)

    May 25, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  7. Steve (the real one)

    Even I think this is a bit of a stretch!

    May 25, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. Luke Brown

    The recently approved health care reform bill provided the largest tax cut in history including $40 billion over ten years to small businesses like mine.

    My kid just graduated from college and doesn't have a job, but this law allows him to stay on my health insurance (at no cost to the government).

    Is this what they want to repeal?

    If this senator voted for this, I'll move to New Jersey so I can vote to reelect him.

    May 25, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. Minnesotan

    So they are going to remove him from office for doing his duty and inacting Democratic reforms to save our economy and give 30 million more people health care along with eliminating the problems that many many of us have with trying to get healthcare because of pre-existing conditions.

    These people are unbelievable. You lost the election! Try again next time. Of course he's going to inact Democratic reforms! He's a Democrat and was elected on a Democratic platform.

    The Tea Party does not stand for democracy. They stand for their way of the highway and any and all costs!! Insane!

    May 25, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. DJ Johnson

    Seriously, if I hear about just one more Republican-led attack on spending after eight years of their silence during the Bush administration I'm just gonna heave. As far as I'm concerned the GOP have lost the right to complain about spending. Honestly, it's like Charles Manson complaining about violence on TV.

    May 25, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. charlie from the North

    Okay tea party folks, time for a civics lesson. A senators term is six years. You cannot get rid of him simply because you disagree with him. You must wait your turn, choose your own candidate and hope that by then you will still have enough power to get him or her elected. It is called the rules. Believe me if I could have gotten rid of George W Bush (by the rules) before his term was up I would have but that's not how it works.

    May 25, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. Future expat

    There ain't no "GOP Renaissance" going on, just a second golden age for America's racists.

    May 25, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. Steph

    You can't recall an elected official because you (or some of you) don't like the way he votes! Sheesh! Get a life and work to elect someone else when his term is up. We have elections for a reason. Imagine if a small minority could attempt to recall any official just because they don't agree with his stance on an issue.

    Hey, better yet, let's make sure none of the tea partiers upset with health care reform are on social security, medicare or any other "socialized" program.

    May 25, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. John in Brooklyn

    So now the teabaggers want to not only insert their minority views on the politcal process AND retroactively remove duly elected representatives that they happen to disagree with. This sets an exceptionally dangerous precendent.

    May 25, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  15. Lisa

    OMG, this is completely crazy!!!!!!!!!

    these people are DOMESTIC TERRORIST of the worst kind.

    We must stop them!!

    May 25, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. Bertina

    No entity even the supreme court has a right to remove a senator or congressman who hasn't broken any laws and was lawfully elected by his constituents. Otherwise, we might as well call the Tea Party members flagrant deniers of the constitution.

    May 25, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. tlh

    Insane? What's insane is the lack of memory. We were at the brink of bankruptcy before Obama took office. Like him or not, the current administration inherited a mess. Doing nothing wasn't working. Doing something seems to be helping. However, if you don't like what's happening (some do, some don't) the resolution is called "an election". To say what's happening is a product of the last year and a half is crazy. To try to waste taxpayer's dollars on this kind of suit is something that should be brought into the open. What happened to professionalism, manners, procedure, honest debate (vs. what passes for debate today).

    May 25, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. David in Houston

    I believe the New Jersey Tea Party "Patriot's" should be investing their hard-earned money on something more useful than bogus legal tin-foil hats perhaps?

    May 25, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Dean

    Just say NO to the Tea Party

    May 25, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. Noah

    Menendez simply did his job by casting votes, he has no criminal charges against him and has done nothing wrong. To allow a recall just because the Tea Party disagrees with him would be absolutely ridiculous.

    May 25, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. B,. Galeles

    Let's see now, are they saying that anyone who doesn't agree with the winning candidate and his views, and votes, can recall him? If so, trust me, I have a few candidates I would lijke to recall. I'll get some friends together and we'll file suit. We are a democratic republic, that means the majority wins. Perhaps I missed something, is the Tea Party representing a majority here?

    May 25, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. Aaron

    If the NJ Supreme Court is majority Repubs, the senator can look forward to a recall vote. It's all about politics, not the law, nowadays.

    May 25, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. Truthfairy

    The Tea Party is getting more & more controlling and intolerant of anyone with alternative views to theirs, and very hostile & threatening to politicians they voted for who don't strictly follow TParty rules , i.e Sen Scott Brown. I'm apalled by what they just did to Brown.

    For a movement that claims to be "grassroots" and resistant to government "meddling" with the business of their lives, they sure seem to like meddling with others?

    Would America under Tea Party governance be run like an ideological police state that outlaws free speech, controls media & publishing, bans certain books, intimidates & silences political opponents by getting them ousted, and reanimates racial discrimination & segregation?

    Senator Menendez is a great senator & good man – if this is the kind of public servant they would have ousted, they're not operating with a full deck.

    May 25, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Bruce

    Sounds just like Menendez to use a soundbite that is not only inacurrate but was taken completely out of context. What a joke this guy is.

    May 25, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    The answer is no they do not have the right to recall a person who elected by the people just because they do not have the same old conservative views as they have..I have never heard of anything this absurd, except maybe hearing the rantings of rand paul...These tea-people are so desperate to take this country back to pre-civil war and gone with wind days, they will stop at nothing it seems..But they shouldn't forget that the people spoke in 2008 for Pres Obama..I guess next they'll try to recall him !!!!

    May 25, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
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