Robinson v. Cahill

CourtNew Jersey Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHUGHES; In the Jackman case, supra, notwithstanding that our Constitution, as construed; PASHMAN
Citation67 N.J. 333,339 A.2d 193
Decision Date23 May 1975
PartiesKenneth ROBINSON, an infant, by his parent and guardian ad litem Ernestine Robinson, et al., Plaintiffs-Respondents, v. William T. CAHILL, Governor of the State of New Jersey, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

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67 N.J. 333
339 A.2d 193
Kenneth ROBINSON, an infant, by his parent and guardian ad
litem Ernestine Robinson, et al., Plaintiffs-Respondents,
v.
William T. CAHILL, Governor of the State of New Jersey, et
al., Defendants-Appellants.
Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Argued March 18, 1975.
Decided May 23, 1975.

[339 A.2d 194] Brendan T. Byrne, pro se, and Lewis B. Kaden, Sp. Counsel to the Governor, Perth Amboy, for appellant Governor of the State of N.J. (Lewis B. Kaden, of counsel and on the brief; John J. Degnan, Newark, Judith Nallin and Arthur Winkler, Asst. Counsel to the Governor, Trenton, on the brief).

Stephen Skillman, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellants Treasurer of the State of N.J., Com. of Ed. of the State of N.J., N.J. State Bd. of Ed., and State of N.J. (William F. Hyland, Atty. Gen., attorney; Stephen Skillman, of counsel and on the brief, Jane Sommer, Deputy Atty. Gen., on the brief).

David J. Goldberg, Trenton, for appellants President of the Senate of the State of N.J. and the Senate of the State of N.J. (Warren, Goldberg, & Berman, Trenton, attorneys).

Jack Borrus, New Brunswick, for appellants Speaker of the General Assembly of the State of N.J. and the General Assembly of the State of N.J. (Borrus, Goldin & Foley, New Brunswick, attorneys; Jack Borrus, of counsel and on the statement in lieu of brief; David M. Foley, New Brunswick, on the statement in lieu of brief).

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Harold J. Ruvoldt, Jr., Jersey City, for respondents (Ruvoldt & Ruvoldt, Jersey City, attorneys and Sp. Counsel to Dennis L. McGill, Corp. Counsel of Jersey City, Jersey City, Frank H. Blatz, Jr., Corp. Counsel of Plainfield, Plainfield, Joseph LaCava, Corp. Counsel of Paterson, Paterson, and Julius Fielo, Corp. Counsel of East Orange, East Orange).

[339 A.2d 195] Paul L. Tractenberg, Newark, and David G. Lubell, New York City, of the New York bar, for amici curiae Ed. Committee, Newark Chapter, NAACP, and American Civil Liberties Union of N.J. (William J. Bender and Frank Askin, Newark, attorneys).

William J. Zaino, Somerset, for amicus curiae N.J. School Bds. Ass'n.

Cassel R. Ruhlman, Jr., Trenton, for amicus curiae N.J. Ed. Ass'n (Ruhlman & Butrym, Trenton, attorneys).

Andrew T. Berry, Newark, on behalf of amici curiae Tp. of Livingston and the Bds. of Ed. of the School Dists. of Montclair, Berkeley Heights, Chatham Tp., New Providence, Rumson, Sandyston-Walpack, Summit and Millburn, Avon-by-the-Sea, Belmar, Englewood, Mendham Tp., and the City of Englewood and the Mayor of the Borough of Carlstadt (McCarter & English, Newark, attorneys for amici curiae Tp. of Livingston and the Bds. of Ed. of the School Dists. of Montclair, Berkeley Heights, Chatham Tp., New Providence, Rumson, Sandyston-Walpack, Summit and Millburn; Andrew T. Berry of counsel and on the brief; Peter F. Shebell, Jr., Asbury Park, filed a brief on behalf of amici curiae Bds. of Ed. of Avon-by-the Sea and Belmar; Walter T. Wittman, Hackensack, attorney for amicus curiae Bd. of Ed. of City of Englewood; Arthur J.

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Lesemann, Hackensack, for amicus curiae City of Englewood; Mills, Doyle, Hock & Murphy, Morristown, filed a brief on behalf of amicus curiae Bd. of Ed. of Tp. of Mendham, Eugene F. Doyle, Morristown, of counsel and on the brief; Paul S. Barbire, Rutherford, filed a brief on behalf of amicus curiae Mayor of the Borough of Carlstadt).

Bruce LaCarrubba, Newton, on behalf of amicus curiae N.J. State Office of Legal Services.

Martin L. Greenberg, Member of the Senate of the State of N.J. filed a brief pro se and on behalf of Anne Martindell and Alexander Menza, Joseph P. Merlino, Trenton, and John Russo, Members of the Senate of the State of N.J. (Stephen N. Dratch, East Orange, on the brief).

Anthony Scardino, Jr., Member of the Senate of the State of New Jersey, filed a statement in lieu of brief pro se.

Thomas H. Kean, Member of the Assembly of the State of N.J. filed a statement in lieu of brief pro se and on behalf of William J. Bate and James W. Bornheimer, Jane Burgio, Mary Keating Croce, Barbara A. Curran, Walter E. Foran, Kenneth A. Gewertz, Francis J. Gorman, Robert P. Hollenbeck, Alan J. Karcher, Robert E. Littell, Carl A. Orechio, George J. Otlowski, Victor A. Rizzolo, Robert M. Ruane, C. Gus Rys, Clifford W. Snedeker, John A. Spizziri, A. Donald Stewart, Rosemarie Totaro and Richard F. Visotcky and Karl Weidel, Members of the Assembly of the State of N.J.

George J. Otlowski, Member of the Assembly of the State of N.J., filed a statement in lieu of brief pro se.

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Alan J. Karcher, Member of the Assembly of the State of N.J., filed a statement in lieu of brief pro se.

Herbert C. Klein, Member of the Assembly of the State of N.J., filed a brief pro se.

Robert B. Meyner, Newark, submitted a brief on behalf of amicus curiae Morris School Dist. (Meyner, Landis & Verdon, Newark, attorneys; Jeffrey L. Reiner, Newark, on the brief).

Milton A. Buck, Corp. Counsel for the City of Newark, East Orange, submitted a brief on behalf of amicus curiae City of Newark (Rosalind L. Bressler, Asst. Corp. Counsel, on the brief).

James D. Checki, Jr., Lyndhurst, submitted a brief on behalf of amicus curiae Bd. of Ed. of Tp. of Lyndhurst (Checki & Politan, Lyndhurst, attorneys).

[339 A.2d 196] Robert T. Pickett, Newark, submitted a brief on behalf of amicus curiae The Ed. Reform Project of The Greater Newark Urban Coalition (Pickett & Jennings, Newark, attorneys; David C. Long and Daniel M. Schemker, Newark, on the brief).

Morton Feldman, Atlantic City, submitted a brief on behalf of amici curiae Pleasantville Taxpayers Ass'n, Weymouth Taxpayers Ass'n, Ass'n of Concerned Citizens of Vineland and Gilbert Cramer.

The opinion of the Court was delivered by

HUGHES, C.J.

The Court has now come face to face with a constitutional exigency involving, on a level of plain, stark and unmistakable reality, the constitutional obligation of the Court to act. Having previously identified a profound violation of constitutional right, based upon default

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in a legislative obligation imposed by the organic law in the plainest of terms, 1 we have more than once stayed our hand, with appropriate respect for the province of other Branches of government. In final alternative, we must now proceed to enforce the constitutional right involved.

The compulsion upon the Court to act in the present state of affairs is evident:

The people's constitutional reposition of power always carries with it a mandate for the full and responsible use of that power. When the organic law reposes legislative power in that branch, for instance, it is expected that such power will be used, lest it wither and leave the vacuum of a constitutional exigency, requiring another branch (however reluctantly) to exercise, or project the exercise of, that unused power for the necessary vindication of the constitutional rights of the people. Robinson v. Cahill, 62 N.J. 473, 303 A.2d 273 (1973), cert. den. sub nom. Dickey v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 976, 94 S.Ct. 292, 38 L.Ed.2d 219; Jackman v. Bodine, 43 N.J. 453, 205 A.2d 713 (1964); Asbury Park Press, Inc. v. Woolley, 33 N.J. 1, 161 A.2d 705 (1960). [ American Trial Lawyers v. N.J. Supreme Ct., 66 N.J. 258, 263, 330 A.2d 350, 353]

In Robinson v. Cahill, 62 N.J. 473, 303 A.2d 273 (1973), we held violative of the Education Clause of the Constitution the existing system of education provided public school children in this State. We construed the Constitution basically to command that the State afford "an equal educational opportunity for children" (Id. at 513, 303 A.2d at 294), however the burden of doing so would be distributed and borne, 2 and we agreed

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with the determination of Judge Botter (118 N.J.Super. 223, 287 A.2d 187; 119 N.J.Super. 40, 289 A.2d 569 (Law Div.1972)) that "the constitutional demand had not been met ***" on the basis of gross "discrepancies in [339 A.2d 197] dollar input [expenditure] per pupil." 62 N.J. at 515, 303 A.2d at 295. We so ruled because dollar input was "plainly relevant and because we [had] been shown no other viable criterion for measuring compliance with the constitutional mandate." Id. at 515-16, 303 A.2d at 295. 3

Thus we considered as the principal cause of the constitutional deficiency the substantial reliance (under our present system of financing education) upon local taxation, entailing as it does "discordant correlations between the educational needs of the school districts and their respective tax bases." Id. at 520, 303 A.2d at 297.

Nevertheless, although we expressed doubt that the Constitution could be satisfied "by reliance upon local taxation"

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(Id. at 520, 303 A.2d 273), we did not foreclose that possibility. We indicated that the State could meet its obligation by financing education either on a statewide basis, with funds provided by the State, or, in whole or in part, by delegating the fiscal obligation to local taxation. Id. at 509-13, 303 A.2d 273. Should it choose the latter alternative, however, it would be incumbent upon the State, either legislatively or administratively to "define ** the educational obligation and *** compel the local school districts to raise the money necessary to provide that [equal educational] opportunity." Id. at 519, 303 A.2d at 297 (emphasis in the original). If local government fails in that endeavor "the State must itself meet its continuing obligation." Id. at 513, 303 A.2d at 294. The State aid plan under the current statute, N.J.S.A. 18A:58-4 (L.1970, c. 234, hereafter the 1970 Act), was found inadequate because "not demonstrably designed to guarantee that local effort plus the State aid will yield to all the pupils in the State that level of educational opportunity which the *** [Constitution] mandates." Id. at 519, 303 A.2d at 297.

We concluded our opinion by ruling that relief would be prospective in nature, and we invited argument as to whether, pending legislative action, the judiciary...

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29 practice notes
  • Seattle School Dist. No. 1 of King County v. State, No. 44845
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • September 28, 1978
    ...in Robinson v. Cahill II, 63 N.J. 196, 306 A.2d 65 (1973); Robinson v. Cahill III, 67 N.J. 35, 335 A.2d 6 (1975); Robinson v. Cahill IV, 67 N.J. 333, 339 A.2d 193 (1975); Robinson v. Cahill V, 69 N.J. 449, 355 A.2d 129 (1976); Robinson v. Cahill VI, 70 N.J. 155, 358 A.2d 457 (1976) and Robi......
  • Ex parte James
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 10, 1997
    ...continues with Robinson v. Cahill, 63 N.J. 196, 306 A.2d 65 (1973); Robinson v. Cahill, 67 N.J. 35, 335 A.2d 6 (1975); Robinson v. Cahill, 67 N.J. 333, 339 A.2d 193 (1975); Robinson v. Cahill, 69 N.J. 133, 351 A.2d 713 (1975); Robinson v. Cahill, 69 N.J. 449, 355 A.2d 129 (1976); Robinson v......
  • DeRolph v. State, No. 95-2066
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • March 24, 1997
    ...63 N.J. 196, 306 A.2d 65 ("Robinson II "); Robinson v. Cahill (1975), 67 N.J. 35, 335 A.2d 6 ("Robinson III "); Robinson v. Cahill (1975), 67 N.J. 333, 339 A.2d 193 ("Robinson IV "); Robinson v. Cahill (1976), 69 N.J. 449, 355 A.2d 129 ("Robinson V "); Robinson v. Cahill (1976), 70 N.J. 155......
  • Roundtree v. Berger, No. 75-C-1052.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 17, 1976
    ...of constitutional rights, we should avoid, if at all possible, placing the process under judicial sanction. Cf. Robinson v. Cahill, 67 N.J. 333, 339 A.2d 193 (1975). But the courts should not remain silent where, as here, no rational justification consistent with any conceivable state polic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • Seattle School Dist. No. 1 of King County v. State, No. 44845
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • September 28, 1978
    ...in Robinson v. Cahill II, 63 N.J. 196, 306 A.2d 65 (1973); Robinson v. Cahill III, 67 N.J. 35, 335 A.2d 6 (1975); Robinson v. Cahill IV, 67 N.J. 333, 339 A.2d 193 (1975); Robinson v. Cahill V, 69 N.J. 449, 355 A.2d 129 (1976); Robinson v. Cahill VI, 70 N.J. 155, 358 A.2d 457 (1976) and Robi......
  • Ex parte James
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 10, 1997
    ...continues with Robinson v. Cahill, 63 N.J. 196, 306 A.2d 65 (1973); Robinson v. Cahill, 67 N.J. 35, 335 A.2d 6 (1975); Robinson v. Cahill, 67 N.J. 333, 339 A.2d 193 (1975); Robinson v. Cahill, 69 N.J. 133, 351 A.2d 713 (1975); Robinson v. Cahill, 69 N.J. 449, 355 A.2d 129 (1976); Robinson v......
  • DeRolph v. State, No. 95-2066
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • March 24, 1997
    ...63 N.J. 196, 306 A.2d 65 ("Robinson II "); Robinson v. Cahill (1975), 67 N.J. 35, 335 A.2d 6 ("Robinson III "); Robinson v. Cahill (1975), 67 N.J. 333, 339 A.2d 193 ("Robinson IV "); Robinson v. Cahill (1976), 69 N.J. 449, 355 A.2d 129 ("Robinson V "); Robinson v. Cahill (1976), 70 N.J. 155......
  • Roundtree v. Berger, No. 75-C-1052.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 17, 1976
    ...of constitutional rights, we should avoid, if at all possible, placing the process under judicial sanction. Cf. Robinson v. Cahill, 67 N.J. 333, 339 A.2d 193 (1975). But the courts should not remain silent where, as here, no rational justification consistent with any conceivable state polic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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