Bankruptcy Court

I have (justifiably!) blamed the Obama administration for the country’s fiscal problems. But one shouldn’t overlook the role of activist courts in placing huge financial burdens on states and localities. Steven Malanga tells the story of “The Court that Broke [New] Jersey.”

Lauded by proponents of “living” constitutions who urge courts to make policy instead of interpret the law as written, the New Jersey Supreme Court has profoundly transformed the Garden State by seizing control of school funding, hijacking zoning powers from towns and cities to increase subsidized housing, and nullifying taxpayer protections in the state constitution. Its undemocratic actions have blown apart the state’s finances and led to ill-conceived and ineffective policies. If you want to understand what rule by liberal judges looks like on the state level, you need only look at New Jersey, which is teetering on bankruptcy though it remains one of America’s wealthiest states.

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