Two years ago today, I noted the eloquent words of Justice Pashman in the final paragraph of his opinion for the Court in New Jersey Ass’n for Retarded Citizens v. New Jersey Dep’t of Human Services, 89 N.J. 234 (1982), decided on May 13, 1982, and suggested that they constituted “the most majestic and stirring language ever to appear in a Supreme Court of New Jersey opinion.” To reiterate, here is what Justice Pashman wrote in that final paragraph:
Like all other citizens, the mentally retarded have the right to pursue happiness. Unlike other citizens, they have unique hurdles to overcome in doing so. Rather than exclude them from the pursuit of happiness, the Legislature has made an effort to include them in our civic community by providing them the special services they need to develop and grow. This public policy affirms our common humanity. Their concerns are our concerns. In this State, we do not set people adrift because they are the victims of misfortune. We take care of each other.
No doubt there are other impressive paragraphs from Supreme Court opinions, and readers are invited to submit some candidates. But at least until other contenders enter the field, thirty one years after Justice Pashman wrote this passage, it still occupies the top spot in the annals of the Court.