Interpretation of Election Laws Should Further Aims of Democracy


Carmelo Garcia’s name will be on the ballot for the June 4 Democratic primary election. The Supreme Court of New Jersey confirmed his eligibility as a candidate for the New Jersey State Assembly last week.  What happened in this case, however, is more important than Carmelo Garcia’s name. 

Five Hoboken residents, obviously orchestrated, filed a lawsuit raising concerns about Garcia’s eligibility under both state and federal election law.  The suit cited an alleged conflict of interest because Garcia currently serves as the Hoboken Housing Director and therefore a portion of his salary is paid with federal funds. A Hudson County judge agreed and ordered his name to be removed from the ballot.

However, the Appellate Division overturned the lower court and ruled that the trial court erred in preventing Garcia from running for office by enforcing a provision of the New Jersey Administrative Code that is based on an outdated section of the Hatch Act, a federal election law. It ordered Garcia’s name be restored to the ballot. The appellate decision became final when the NJ Supreme Court refused to consider the matter last week.

The legal dispute over Garcia’s eligibility highlights the complexity of both state and federal election law, particularly in places where the two intersect. While the Hatch Act previously prevented an individual from running for partisan office if his salary was paid in part by federal funds, it was amended in 2012 to allow candidates to seek public office so long as their salaries are not entirely paid with federal funds. The goal was to reduce the restrictions on local employees' ability to run for office.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Donald Scarinci, Scarinci Hollenbeck | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.