Judges assigned as temporary replacements to the state Supreme Court have become common enough to prompt a legislator to propose a bill that would give them a better title.

No longer would temporarily assigned Judge Mary Cuff, for example, be called “judge.” Should the bill become law, she would be referred to as “acting associate justice of the Supreme Court.” The bill would change only a judge’s title; it does not call for a change in pay or benefits.

To qualify for the bump up in title, a judge would have to serve on the high court for 180 days. The bill would be retroactive to 2010, meaning that any of the judges temporarily assigned to the court under Governor Christie would be granted the new title.

In 2010, Christie did not renominate Associate Justice John Wallace, a Democrat, the first time since 1947 and the adoption of the current state constitution that a justice was not allowed to stay on the bench after an initial seven-year term. Last year Christie declined to renominate Associate Justice Helen Hoens, a Republican.

After Christie declined to renominate Wallace, Democrats have repeatedly blocked the governor’s picks for the high court – these deadlocks have created vacancies that are then filled by senior judges. Currently, Cuff is the only temporarily assigned judge on the court.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee released the bill on a unanimous 5-0 vote to the full Assembly. There is no companion bill in the Senate. The vote, however, did not take place without a dig at the nomination process by one of the committee’s members.

“My preference would be that we confirm our justices,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Westwood.