New Jersey legislators once again attempt to adopt constitutional amendment allowing for legislative “override” of judicial decisions, require use of original intent interpretation

As I mentioned last year, Rick Perry’s idea of allowing legislatures to “override” or vote to overturn judicial decisions is not particularly new. Two states, Montana and New Jersey, have debated the concept for years.

Undaunted by the fact that not a single version of the bill has even advanced to a committee hearing, members of the New Jersey Assembly have nevertheless reintroduced ACR 102, permitting (among other things) the legislature to override the state’s judiciary.

Specifically, it would add a new section IX to the state’s judiciary article (Article VI).

a. As the people possess the exclusive authority to ordain or amend constitutions, all courts shall interpret this Constitution in a manner consistent with the intention of the people when ordaining or amending the same. Any court which declares an act of government contrary to the provisions of the Constitution shall do so in writing, setting forth in specific detail the section violated and the history of the provision which supports the decision. No court shall expand a constitutional provision beyond, nor constrict a constitutional provision below, the scope actually intended by the people. Furthermore, as the power of the purse is solely that of the Legislature, no court shall issue any decision, whether under this Constitution or otherwise, which shall have the effect of compelling the State or any of its subdivisions to expend any money, or restraining the expenditure thereof, without the express consent of the Legislature.

b. The Legislature may review any decision to determine if the decision violates the provisions of subsection a. of this constitutional amendment or is otherwise inconsistent with the intent of the Legislature. The Legislature may invalidate the decision, in whole or in part, by a vote of a two-thirds majority of the authorized membership of each House in favor of a concurrent resolution providing for invalidation.

The concurrent resolution has been sent to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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