N.J. Supreme Court Begins Retirement Contribution Case

March 26, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The New Jersey Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on whether state judges can be ordered to pay 9% more into their pension fund.  

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie initiated a law requiring higher contributions from all government employees because the state pension system is underfunded by tens of billions of dollars (see “NJ Legislature Approves Cuts to Public Worker Benefits”). The law hikes the judges’ pension contributions from 3% of their salary to 12% after a seven-year phase-in period. The judges’ contributions were increased more than other groups, which the judges’ say is an illegal reduction in their salaries. 

The case, which was brought by Superior Court Judge Paul DePascale hopes to invalidate the 2011 law, according to the Associated Press.

In November 2011, a New Jersey State appeals court ruled it would stand a lower court ruling and that higher retirement contributions would be a reduction in judicial pay, which violates the state constitution (see “Court Rules against Higher Retirement Contributions for N.J. Judges”).  The state appealed the ruling, and Christie asked for a constitutional amendment to bypass it.