Sweeney loses suit to get back on redistricting panel

February 2, 2022 GMT

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey judge has denied the former state Senate president’s request to be reinstated on the commission that will redraw legislative districts.

Judge Robert Lougy denied former Senate President Steve Sweeney’s petition to be reinstated onto the Apportionment Commission in a brief order on Tuesday.

In an emailed statement Wednesday, Sweeney’s attorney said the former top lawmaker is weighing whether he might appeal. Attorney Bill Tambussi said the judge’s decision means that there will be no South Jersey Democratic representation on the commission.

Sweeney, who had expected to continue on as Senate president, lost reelection to Republican Ed Durr in November.

Sweeney, though, had already been named to the commission that will draw the state’s 40 legislative districts and expected to remain on the panel.

But Democratic State Party Chairman LeRoy Jones booted Sweeney from the commission last week, saying he was appointing Laura Matos in an attempt at including more diverse voices on the panel. Matos works at the public affairs firm Kivvit.

Sweeney sued to try to get reinstated, arguing that because Matos currently lives in at the shore in Monmouth County, there is not southern New Jersey representation on the commission.

The commission is charged with drawing the state’s 40 legislative districts after the federal census every 10 years. Each district elects two Assembly members and one senator to the Legislature.

Democrats and Republicans each appoint 10 members to the commission, with the 11th member chosen by the chief justice of the state supreme court.