SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION No. 110

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 14, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  SHIRLEY K. TURNER

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Senator  STEPHEN M. SWEENEY

District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Beck, Oroho and Thompson

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Proposes constitutional amendment clarifying Legislature’s authority to pass laws taking contributions from justices’ and certain judges’ salaries for employee benefits.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


A Concurrent Resolution proposing to amend Article VI, Section VI, paragraph 6 of the New Jersey Constitution.

 

     Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey (the General Assembly concurring):

 

     1.    The following proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State of New Jersey is agreed to:

 

PROPOSED AMENDMENT

 

     Amend Article VI, Section VI, paragraph 6 to read as follows:

     6.    The Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judges of the Superior Court shall receive for their services such salaries as may be provided by law, which shall not be diminished during the term of their appointment, except for deductions from such salaries for contributions, established by law from time to time, for pensions as provided for under paragraphs 3 and 5 of Section VI of this Article, health benefits, and other, similar benefits.  They shall not, while in office, engage in the practice of law or other gainful pursuit.

(cf: Art. VI, Sec. VI, par. 6)

 

     2.    When this proposed amendment to the Constitution is finally agreed to pursuant to Article IX, paragraph 1 of the Constitution, it shall be submitted to the people at the next general election occurring more than three months after the final agreement and shall be published at least once in at least one newspaper of each county designated by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly and the Secretary of State, not less than three months prior to the general election.

 

     3.    This proposed amendment to the Constitution shall be submitted to the people at that election in the following manner and form:

     There shall be printed on each official ballot to be used at the general election, the following:

     a.     In every municipality in which voting machines are not used, a legend which shall immediately precede the question as follows:

     If you favor the proposition printed below make a cross (X), plus (+), or check (a) in the square opposite the word "Yes." If you are opposed thereto make a cross (X), plus (+) or check (a) in the square opposite the word "No."

     b.    In every municipality the following question:


 

 

 

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT  ALLOWING CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE TAKEN FROM JUSTICES’ AND JUDGES’ SALARIES FOR THEIR EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

 

YES

     Do you approve an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution, as agreed to by the Legislature, to allow contributions set by law to be taken from the salaries of Supreme Court Justices and Superior Court Judges for their employee benefits?

 

 

INTERPRETIVE STATEMENT

 

NO

     This amendment clarifies the Legislature’s authority to pass laws requiring contributions be taken from the salaries of Supreme Court Justices and Superior Court Judges for their employee benefits.  These benefits include their pension and health care coverage.

     The amendment responds to a question raised in a 2011 lawsuit filed by a judge after the Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law P.L.2011, c.78.  That law increased the contributions taken from current and future justices’ and judges’ salaries for their benefits, starting in October 2011.  The lawsuit, which was appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court, argued against taking the higher contributions from currently appointed justices and judges, citing language in the Constitution that their salaries cannot be reduced during their appointed terms.

     The amendment clarifies that such contributions, set by law, may be taken from justices’ and judges’ salaries during their terms.  It would also allow for the higher contributions set by P.L.2011, c.78 to be deducted from current and future justices’ and judges’ salaries.

 

 

SCHEDULE

 

     This constitutional amendment shall become part of the New Jersey Constitution immediately upon approval by the voters, and shall make the benefit contribution requirements of P.L.2011, c.78 (C.43:3C-16 et al.) applicable to all current and future Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Superior Court as of that date.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This constitutional amendment clarifies the Legislature’s authority to enact laws that deduct contributions from the salaries of Supreme Court Justices and Superior Court Judges to help fund their employee benefits, which include their pension and health care coverage.  The amendment specifically concerns only these justices and judges, as only their salaries are referenced and protected from various reductions, during their terms of appointment, under the current provisions of Article VI, Section VI, paragraph 6 of the New Jersey Constitution.

     The amendment responds to a question raised in a 2011 lawsuit, DePascale v. State, MER-L-1893-11 (Law. Div., filed July 21, 2011), filed after the Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law P.L.2011, c.78 (C.43:3C-16 et al.).  That law increased the contributions to be deducted from the salaries of current and future Supreme Court Justices and Superior Court Judges (as well as other public employees), starting in October 2011.  The lawsuit, which was appealed to the State’s Supreme Court (docket # A-34-11, certif. granted, Nov. 11, 2011), argued for stopping the higher contributions with respect to currently appointed justices and judges, citing to the Constitution’s Article VI, Section VI, paragraph 6, which states that salaries for justices and judges “shall not be diminished during the term of their appointment.”

     The amendment adds language to that provision to clarify that benefit contributions may be deducted from justices’ and judges’ salaries during their terms, as set from time to time by law.  It would become part of the New Jersey Constitution immediately upon approval by the voters, and make the higher benefit contribution requirements of P.L.2011, c.78 (C.43:3C-16 et al.) applicable to all current and future justices and judges as of that date.