|U.S. Senator from New Jersey|
From: January 18, 2006 – Present
|Successor||Incumbent (no successor)|
|U.S. Representative from New Jersey's 13th District|
From: January 5, 1993 – January 18, 2006
|Spouse(s)||Jane Menendez (div.)|
Robert "Bob" Menendez (born January 1, 1954) is the junior United States Senator from New Jersey and a member of the Democratic Party. After being appointed to fill the vacant Senate seat left by Governor Jon Corzine, Menendez was elected to a term in his own right with 53% of the vote in 2006. He has voted with his Democrat colleagues 97.2% of the time. Menendez was chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2009-2011, during which Democrats lost a net of six Senate seats.
Previously he served as Mayor of Union City, New Jersey, and then as a U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 13th congressional district.
In 2009, three citizens, inspired by the Tea Party Movement, started a campaign to recall Menendez from office, on the grounds that he had failed in his duty to represent them properly and to uphold the United States Constitution, as any Senator swears to do. New Jersey state law requires a minimum number of signatures equivalent to at least 25% of the prior general election’s registered voters in order to grant a special recall election.
The Committee to Recall Robert Menendez from the Office of United States Senator filed a Notice of Intent with the New Jersey Division of Elections on September 25, 2009. The Division, then under the supervision of Secretary of State Nina M. Wells (an appointee of then-Governor Jon Corzine), initially acknowledged receipt of the application on October 5. The Division then said nothing further for a total of three and a half months, during which the Committee first filed a second Notice of Intent (which the Division never acknowledged) and then sued the Division in the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. When the Elections Division did not respond to the lawsuit within the required 30 days, the Committee filed for summary judgment.
The next day, the Elections Division declared the Notice inherently illegal on the ground that States may not recall their Senators mid-term, because only the Senate can judge the qualifications of its own membership.
The Menendez Recall Committee appealed at once. The Appellate Division accepted the appeal and served notice on the Elections Division, and also on Menendez, as an "indispensable party" to the case. By all accounts, this is the first time that Menendez even realized that a movement to recall him from office existed.
Between the filing of the appeal and the eventual oral argument on the matter, something happened that would directly affect the State's handling of the case: Christopher J. Christie became Governor instead of Corzine, and Kim Guadagno took over as lieutenant governor and also as Secretary of State. Thereafter the State made no attempt to defend the decisions of the previous administration.
The Appellate Division heard oral argument on March 2, 2010. Then on March 14, 2010, the court held 3-0 that the US Constitution was silent on the matter of recalling a Senator, that the United States Supreme Court had had no case "squarely on point" before it, and therefore, in the absence of clear federal Constitutional guidance, the New Jersey Constitution must stand. But the court stayed its decision for 45 days, the time limit for the Supreme Court of New Jersey to take appeals.
Menendez appealed the decision on April 4, 2010. The Supreme Court of New Jersey accepted the "petition for certification" and asked for briefs on an accelerated briefing schedule. The case went to oral argument on May 25—before only six Justices and an empty chair. (Christie has earlier refused to reappoint Associate Justice John E. Wallace to a tenured position on the Court, and the New Jersey Senate, taking exception to Christie's non-reappointment of a sitting Justice who did not stand accused of moral turpitude, refused to hold hearings on the confirmation of a permanent successor to Wallace, and continues so to refuse to this day.)
On November 18, 2010, the Supreme Court held, 4-2, that a United States Senator was not subject to recall. The arguments that the Court used are difficult to follow, and amount to an assertion that the US Constitution's silence on recall, after the Articles of Confederation had made recall an explicit right, constituted a denial of the right of recall. Justices Roberto A. Rivera-Soto and Helen E. Hoens stingingly dissented, saying that "a dark day" had fallen on the Court after it had, in essence, declared part of New Jersey's own Constitution unconstitutional.
- Official website
- MenendezFacts website
- Menendez on the issues
- Committee to Recall Robert Menendez from the Office of United States Senator v. Wells & Giles, Case No. A-86-09, Supreme Court of New Jersey, syllabus, opinion and dissent.
- Source: The Washington Post
- Sussex County Tea Party Committee Announces Campaign to Recall Senator Robert Menendez
- Hurlbut T, "Summary judgment asked in Menendez recall effort," <http://www.examiner.com/Newark>, 11 January 2010
- Hurlbut T, "NJ Elections Division says Menendez recall illegal," <http://www.examiner.com/Newark>, 14 Jan 2010
- Hurlbut T, "Menendez recall committee appeals decision," <http://www.examiner.com/Newark>, 29 Jan 2010.
- Hurlbut T, "Oral arguments today in Menendez recall," <http://www.examiner.com/Newark>, 2 March 2010
- Hurlbut T, "Menendez recall may go forward—perhaps—with 45 days," <http://www.examiner.com/>, 16 March 2010
- Hurlbut T, "Menendez appeals recall decision to NJ Supreme Court," <http://www.examiner.com/Newark>, 5 April 2010
- Hurlbut T, "NJ Supremes accelerate briefing sked on Menendez recall," <http://www.examiner.com/Newark>, 8 April 2010
- Hurlbut T, "Oral arguments conclude in Menendez recall case," <http://www.examiner.com/Newark>, 26 May 2010
- Hurlbut T, "NJ Supremes declare recall unconstitutional," <http://www.examiner.com/Newark>, 18 Nov 2010.
- Hurlbut T, "Menendez recall committee will petition US Supremes," <http://www.examiner.com/Newark>, 28 Dec 2010.