Bench Memos

New Jersey Supreme Court Usurps State Education Budget

The New Jersey Supreme Court just issued its highly anticipated ruling in New Jersey’s ongoing school funding fight. According to the court, Governor Christie and state legislators must spend an extra $500 million next year

This is just another hit in a long string of cases wherein New Jersey’s highest court has taken on the role of judiciary, appropriator, and chief executive. The New Jersey constitution states that the “legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system” of free education from elementary school through high school. In the Abbott v. Burke line of cases, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided that it has the authority to determine what level of funding satisfies the constitution’s requirement of a thorough and efficient system and to order the state to spend more if the court is not satisfied. One would have to re-read Justice Blackmun’s opinion in Roe v. Wade to find a greater example of incoherence and willful judging masked as legal analysis.

The decisions have cost New Jersey taxpayers billions of dollars in higher taxes. According to the authors of this Federalist Society white paper, some place the estimated cost of complying with these decisions at more than $37 billion between 1998 and 2008 alone. 

There will likely be significant political tremors from this decision. This year there are state legislative elections in New Jersey and this may well become a defining issue. There are few issues on which citizens have greater cognitive dissonance than on controlling spending and education. The added offense of judicial usurpation may just tilt voters toward controlling spending this year.

Carrie Severino is chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network.

Most Popular


How to Bend the News

This, from ABC, is a nice example of a news organization deliberately bending the truth in order to advance a narrative that it wishes were true but is not: Venerable gun manufacturer Colt says it will stop producing the AR-15, among other rifles, for the consumer market in the wake of many recent mass ... Read More

George Packer Gets Mugged by Reality

Few journalists are as respected by, and respectable to, liberals as The Atlantic’s George Packer. The author of The Assassin's Gate (2005), The Unwinding (2013), and a recently published biography of Richard Holbrooke, Our Man, Packer has written for bastions of liberal thought from the New York Times Magazine ... Read More

Trump’s Total Culture War

 Donald Trump is waging a nonstop, all-encompassing war against progressive culture, in magnitude analogous to what 19th-century Germans once called a Kulturkampf. As a result, not even former president George W. Bush has incurred the degree of hatred from the left that is now directed at Trump. For most of ... Read More