The New Jersey Supreme Court will be handing down its marriage-equality decision after Chief Justice Poritz's last day on the Court -- her last day being tomorrow, Wednesday, October 25th.
Conventional wisdom has been that the decision would have to come down by the last day before the Chief Justice's retirement. But according to the Court's spokespeople, and as some news organizations have now reported, the Court can hand down rulings after a particular justice's last day without nullifying her participation or vote.
In fact, the Court even allows a retired justice to continue participating in deliberations in a particular case, so long as she had sat on the bench in that case, after her retirement.
So this much is clear:
1. There is no deadline for the Court to hand down its decision.
2. There is no correlation between the time it takes a Court to deliver a decision and the outcome of a decision. Our brothers and sisters in Massachusetts went through a similar situation with their marriage equality case. Throughout 2003, the year their case was argued before the court, conventional wisdom had been that the decision would come down by a certain date. The decision came down afterward.
3. It is far from unprecedented for the New Jersey Supreme Court to hand down rulings this long after oral arguments. In fact, the Court is announcing today, Tuesday, October 24th, a decision in a death-penalty case in which the Court heard oral arguments on November 29, 2005.
So that's the latest. One thing is clear: NJ activists are prepared for any outcome. We want a win, of course, but we are prepared for anything. Hey, that's what forward-thinking activists have to do!