Another legal setback for the Christie administration to make New Jersey judges pay more for their health and retirement benefits.

An appeals court on Friday rejected the administration's request to block a lower court ruling that found the higher payments would be a reduction in judicial pay, which violates the state constitution. The judge said it was a matter of judicial independence.

Friday's appeals court ruling says the state failed to show there would be harm to allow the ruling to stand. The state Supreme Court has agreed to fast-track the case without it going before an appeals court and will hear arguments early next year.

The case stems from a new law that requires all public employees to contribute a greater share toward those benefits.

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