In a highly unusual move, the State of New Jersey has asked the Supreme Court for permission to withdraw from the amicus brief it earlier joined against the Christian Legal Society in the Martinez case. Although New Jersey filed the letter on May 5, we have just learned about it.
New Jersey is withdrawing from a brief opposing CLS that was joined by a meager collection of four states (Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and Maryland). Of course, that brief was overshadowed by the fourteen states that joined an amicus brief supporting CLS. It is great to have such a large number of states supporting CLS, which stands in stark contrast to the dwindling handful of states opposing CLS in this case.
It is highly unusual for a state attorney general to withdraw from an amicus brief, especially at the level of the U.S. Supreme Court. It is an intriguing question as to why this has happened. Did New Jersey’s new Governor Chris Christie have something to do with it? Maybe, but we really don’t know. We had no idea that New Jersey was going to submit such a letter. Although this letter came out of the blue, but it is most welcomed.
The Supreme Court has about six weeks left in its terms. The schedule shows the Court coming in on Mondays to announce decisions. Although there is a finite list for the justices to hand down, we do not know when the CLS opinion will come down. Because it was argued so late in the term (April 19), I do not expect to see it until the end of June, right at the end of the Term. Stay tuned.