Efforts to change state constitutions to remove/alter Judicial Council or Supreme Court rulemaking authority – Part 3

This third installment looks at efforts to change state constitutional grants of rulemaking authority to courts of last resort, typically called the “supreme court”, or judicial councils.

My colleagues here at the National Center have a listing of all such provisions here.

Massachusetts to New Jersey below the fold.


The state has no constitutional provision regarding rule making authority.


The supreme court shall by general rules establish, modify, amend and simplify the practice and procedure in all courts of this state. (Art. 6, Sec. 5)

No effort has been made to alter this provision in the last decade.


The state has no constitutional provision regarding rule making authority.


The state has no constitutional provision regarding rule making authority.


The supreme court may establish rules relating to practice, procedure and pleading for all courts and administrative tribunals, which shall have the force and effect of law. The rules shall not change substantive rights, or the law relating to evidence, the oral examination of witnesses, juries, the right of trial by jury, or the right of appeal. The court shall publish the rules and fix the day on which they take effect, but no rule shall take effect before six months after its publication. Any rule may be annulled or amended in whole or in part by a law limited to the purpose. (Art. V, Sec. 5)

Only a single recent effort has been made to alter this provision. HJR 48 and SJR 31 of 1996 both would have provided that officers or employees of corporations could appear before the state’s tax commission or agency handling unemployment benefits without it being deemed the practice of law under the Missouri Supreme Court’s rules. It was approved by the Senate but rejected by the House Workers’ Compensation Committee.


[The Supreme Court] may make rules governing appellate procedure, practice and procedure for all other courts, admission to the bar and the conduct of its members. Rules of procedure shall be subject to disapproval by the legislature in either of the two sessions following promulgation. (Art. VII, Sec. 2)

There were two efforts to alter this provision. SB 156 of 2003 would have provided “The right to practice law in any court in Montana shall not be denied to any citizen of the United States on account of race, color, sex, culture, social origin or condition, residency, formal education, or political or religious ideas or because of any quota.” The other, SB 474 of 2005, would have removed the court’s power over “admission to the bar” and instead given the power of bar admission to the legislature. Both bills were killed in committee.


In accordance with rules established by the Supreme Court and not in conflict with other provisions of this Constitution and laws governing such matters, general administrative authority over all courts in this state shall be vested in the Supreme Court and shall be exercised by the Chief Justice. (Art. V, Sec. 1)

For the effectual administration of justice and the prompt disposition of judicial proceedings, the supreme court may promulgate rules of practice and procedure for all courts, uniform as to each class of courts, and not in conflict with laws governing such matters. To the same end, the court may, and when requested by the Legislature by resolution shall, certify to the Legislature its conclusions as to desirable amendments or changes in the general laws governing such practice and proceedings. (Art. V, Sec. 25)

No substantive amendments or changes have been proposed to these provisions. A 1999 technical amendment changed the requirement of a “joint resolution” of the legislature to simply “the Legislature by resolution” in Section 25.


The state has no constitutional provision regarding rule making authority.

New Hampshire

See this post.

New Jersey

The Supreme Court shall make rules governing the administration of all courts in the State and, subject to the law, the practice and procedure in all such courts. The Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction over the admission to the practice of law and the discipline of persons admitted. (Art. VI, Sec. II, para. 3)

Several efforts have been made to repeal or amend the second sentence regarding the Supreme Court’s power over admission to the practice of law (ACR 118 of 2004; ACR 133 of 2006; ACR 55 of 2008). None advanced out of committee.