Ten New Jersey Cases That Shook the Nation
Publication Year: 2013
Paul Tractenberg has selected ten of the court’s landmark decisions between 1960 and 2011 to illustrate its extensive involvement in major public issues, and to assess its impact. Each case chapter is authored by a distinguished academic or professional expert, several of whom were deeply involved in the cases’ litigation, enabling them to provide special insights. An overview chapter provides context for the court’s distinctive activity.
Many of the cases are so widely known that they have become part of the national conversation about law and policy. In the Karen Ann Quinlan decision, the court determined the right of privacy extends to refusing life-sustaining treatment. The Baby M case reined in surrogate parenting and focused on the child’s best interests. In the Mount Laurel decision, the court sought to increase affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents throughout the state. The Megan’s Law case upheld legal regulation of sex offender community notification. A series of decisions known as Abbott/Robinson required the state to fund poor urban school districts at least on par with suburban districts.
Other less well known cases still have great public importance. Henningsen v. Bloomfield Motors reshaped product liability and tort law to protect consumers injured by defective cars; State v. Hunt shielded privacy rights from unwarranted searches beyond federal standards; Lehmann v. Toys ‘R’ Us protected employees from sexual harassment and a hostile work environment; Right to Choose v. Byrne expanded state constitutional abortion rights beyond the federal constitution; and Marini v. Ireland protected low-income tenants against removal from their homes.
For some observers, the New Jersey Supreme Court represents the worst of judicial activism; others laud it for being, in its words, “the designated last-resort guarantor of the Constitution's command.” For Tractenberg, the court’s activism means it tends to find for the less powerful over the more powerful and for the public good against private interests, an approach he applauds.
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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This book and each of its chapters tell a fascinating and important story, a story about the origins of New Jersey?s modern judiciary, about the framework within which the state?s highest court functions, and about the cases that stand as examples of the court?s finest work. It is a story of an independent court sys-tem and the search for justice as the peculiar and specific charge of the judicial ...
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The New Jersey Supreme Court is consistently ranked ?as one of the leading state supreme courts in the United States.?1 A critical assessment of American courts in the early 1990s said that it ?appears on every list of innovative or pres-tigious courts.?2 By 2000, when the California courts fell from the short list of top state court systems, one writer urged them to ?model . . . the Garden [State]? ...
Henningsen v. Bloomfield Motors, Inc. (1960)
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Ford Motor Company announced the culmination of the largest series of recalls in its history in October 2009: sixteen million cars, trucks, and minivans con-tained a faulty switch that created a risk of fire even when the vehicle was turned off. The toy in a McDonald?s Happy Meal contains no dangerous lead paint, and the box warns parents that the toy contains small parts and is unsuitable for ...
Marini v. Ireland (1970)
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Within a thirty- four- day period in 1970, courts in Illinois, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey announced decisions that dramatically altered a central aspect of landlord- tenant law? the ability of landlords to summarily dispossess tenants for failure to pay rent. Each decision reached essentially the same conclusion: tenants were entitled to defend against summary dispossession if conditions ...
Southern Burlington County NAACP v. Township of Mount Laurel (1975)
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This chapter tells the story of the landmark Mount Laurel case, primarily from the perspective of those who were plaintiffs.1 Because of the plaintiffs? ethnic makeup, race theorists and civil rights advocates have argued that ?at its core, the Mount Laurel doctrine targets residential segregation as a key factor in the perpetuation of racial inequality in New Jersey.?2 According to those commen-...
In Re Karen Ann Quinlan (1976)
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On September 10, 1975, Joseph and Julia Quinlan petitioned the Morris County, New Jersey, court for legal guardianship of their twenty- one- year- old daughter Karen Ann, who was in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). They sought per-mission to direct removal of the respirator sustaining her life. Approximately six months earlier, Karen had been rushed to the emergency room of Newton ...
Right to Choose v. Byrne (1982)
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Of all the constitutional issues that have come before our courts, few have been as intractable, as divisive, or as impassioned as that of a woman?s right to terminate a pregnancy by abortion. The issue pits personal rights against public policy and invariably evokes the most intense and deeply held personal feel-ings and beliefs about health, family, religion, privacy, the nature of life, and a ...
State v. Hunt (1982)
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Our country was still fairly early in the development of what we now call the ?new judicial federalism? when the New Jersey Supreme Court decided State v. Hunt in 1982.1 This set of developments arose because we have a federal system, with a national government and a United States Constitution, as well as fifty state governments, each with its own state constitution. Under such a system, ...
In the Matter of Baby M (1988)
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The case of In the Matter of Baby M has been called the ?custody trial of the twentieth century.?1 The baby girl at its center was born on March 27, 1986, in the coastal town of Long Branch, New Jersey.2 Her birth certificate listed her name as Sara. The certificate also listed her mother as Mary Beth Whitehead, who carried and gave birth to her, and her father as Richard Whitehead, Mary ...
Lehmann v. Toys ‘R’ Us (1993)
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When Terri Lehmann began working at Toys ?R? Us headquarters in Paramus, New Jersey, in 1981, the law of sexual harassment was still in its infancy. In 1986, the United States Supreme Court first addressed the issue, condemn-ing a supervisor?s extortionate demands for sex. In 1991, a federal court of appeals denounced the U.S. Postal Service for allowing a male to return to the ...
Doe v. Poritz and Megan’s Law (1995)
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The New Jersey Supreme Court has often been accused of usurping legislative functions to further social policy objectives. Particularly during the tenure of the late Chief Justice Robert Wilentz, judicially imposed mandates drew the ire of critics who made the familiar accusations of ?judicial activism? and ?super legislature.? Two of the most notable examples are dealt with in other chap-...
New Jersey’s School Funding Litigation, Robinson v. Cahill and Abbott v. Burke (2011)
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In many ways, New Jersey?s school funding and education reform litigation is the centerpiece of this book. No cases better represent that than Robinson v. Cahill and Abbott v. Burke, the tandem that has revolutionized New Jersey?s school funding and educational system and has shaken the nation in the pro-cess. Robinson dominated much of the 1970s, and Abbott has been at the center ...
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The year 1947 marked a watershed for New Jersey and its court system. The creaky century- old state constitution was radically rewritten and a new, mod-ernized judicial system was the capstone. The resulting New Jersey Supreme Court had the independence and structure to become one of the nation?s lead-ing state supreme courts, widely considered strong and highly effective, if more ...
Notes on Contributors
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Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Rivergate Regionals Collection
Series Editor Byline: