In a show of unwavering support, Senators Nicholas Sacco and Brian Stack, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, have thrown their weight behind Governor Phil Murphy’s selection of 45-year old, Michael Noriega for the vacant, New Jersey Supreme Court seat. Noriega, if confirmed, would replace Justice Barry Albin, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 last July.
A Union City native, former public defender and immigration rights advocate, Noriega needs nine more Senators to reach the magic number of 21 to win Senate confirmation. Noriega is a partner at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, the Scotch Plains law firm headed by State Sen. Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield).
Senator Sacco emphasized the importance of selecting a Supreme Court justice who possesses the necessary expertise and integrity to uphold the Constitution and protect citizens’ rights. With Governor Murphy’s nominee, he believes that these criteria will be met with resounding success.
“His lifelong passion of representing the underserved of this state is a testament to his integrity,” Sacco said. “Having a Latino Justice is integral to ensuring that this vibrant community has representation on our highest court and that the court represents the cultural fabric of our state.”
“I am very happy it’s a Hispanic – somebody who understands the community and has done work on a pro-bono basis,” said Stack. I give a lot of credit to Governor Murphy for another excellent selection.”
If confirmed by the State Senate, Noriega would become the only Hispanic to currently serve on the state’s highest court. He would be the first justice from Hudson County since Marie Garibaldi retired 23 years ago.
Noriega would become the third Hispanic to serve on the top court – Roberto Rivera-Soto served from 2004 to 2011 and Faustino Fernandez-Vina from 2013 to 2022. He would be the fourth Hudson County native under the current State Constitution. The others were, in addition to Garibaldi, who was the first woman to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court, Mark A. Sullivan of Jersey City, who served from 1973 to 1981; and Pierre Garven, the former chief justice and the son of Pierre P. Garven, the mayor of Bayonne from 1906 to 1910, and from 1915 to 1919.
Justice Albin was known as the Supreme Court’s “liberal lion.” He served 19 years on the high court.