TRENTON — Calling it a "really big day" for New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday nominated Judge Douglas Fasciale of the state Superior Court Appellate Division as the newest Associate Justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Fasciale has been temporarily filling a seat on the high court at the direction of Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, Murphy said during his announcement.

If confirmed, Fasciale would be the 42nd justice in the 75-year history of the court dating back to the ratification of the current state constitution, which Murphy said happened this week in 1947.

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"As someone who spent 17 years as a litigator and trial attorney in New Jersey, and then 18 years as a judge at different levels in our judiciary, I've devoted my entire career to the legal system of our state," Fasciale said, choking up as he recognized his late parents' influence on his path. "I am so grateful to have the opportunity to continue this service by sitting on our state's highest court."

If Murphy has his way, Fasciale won't be the only new justice confirmed. The governor's previous nomination of Rachel Wainer Apter has been held up in the state Senate.

The presence of Senate President Nicholas Scutari, D-Union Co., at Wednesday's announcement seemed to indicate both nominations would move forward.

"I am proud to nominate Judge Fasciale," Murphy said. "I eagerly await the day when both he and Rachel Wainer Apter are confirmed by the Senate and take their seats."

Fasciale, who prior to his appointment to the Appellate Division had been a Superior Court judge in Union County from 2004 to 2010, was unanimously recommended by Murphy's judiciary advisory panel.

Murphy said he hoped the selection of Fasciale would uphold the credibility of the state's high court, a distinction he said the U.S. Supreme Court has lost in recent years.

"His ascension to our state's highest court will send a strong message to all New Jerseyans, and I hope to leaders throughout our nation, of the importance of judicial independence and impartiality," the governor said.

A timeline for potential confirmation hearings was not immediately clear.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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