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New Jersey's Supreme Court dealt a partial defeat to one of Gov. Chris Christie's signature legislative accomplishments Tuesday when it ruled that the state's judges don't have to contribute more to their pensions and health benefits. A leading state lawmaker immediately said the battle over the matter would continue.

The narrow 3-2 decision sided with a legal challenge filed last year by a state Superior Court judge in Hudson County who argued that the law imposing the pension and health care benefits changes violated a part of the state constitution that set judges' salaries and said they cannot be reduced.

The justices noted in their ruling that without a corresponding salary increase, the increased contributions would eventually cost judges at least $17,000 annually in take-home pay, amounting to a pay cut of more than 10 percent.

Christie, a Republican, had worked with the Democratic-controlled Legislature to pass the law last year. It affects hundreds of thousands of government workers around the state in addition to between 400 and 500 sitting judges and justices.



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