Straight to the Supreme Court for the New Jersey Republican State Committee’s Constitutional Challenge to the New Jersey COVID-19 Emergency Bond Act

On July 16, the New Jersey Republican State Committee and other plaintiffs filed suit against Governor Murphy in the Law Division, Mercer County. The lawsuit asserts that the New Jersey COVID-19 Emergency Bond Act, which was adopted by both Houses of the Legislature and (after this suit was filed seeking to enjoin Governor Murphy from signing the legislation) signed by Governor Murphy, is unconstitutional as violative of the Debt Limitation Clause of the New Jersey Constitution, article VIII, section II, paragraph 3(b), and the Supreme Court’s decision in Lance v. McGreevey, 180 N.J. 590 (2004).

On July 17, the Supreme Court took the matter up, granting direct certification under Rule 2:12-1. That Rule is rarely invoked, but the nature of this case certainly justified it.

The Court’s Order directly certifying the case, which includes a copy of the filed Complaint, can be found here. The question presented (though, contrary to usual practice, not stated in the form of a question), as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “In this matter, the Supreme Court considers a constitutional challenge to the New Jersey COVID-19 Emergency Bond Act, which authorizes the issuance of up to $9.9 billion in State general obligation bonds to be used for the purpose of responding to the fiscal exigencies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Court set an accelerated briefing schedule and set the case down for oral argument on August 5 at 10 AM. The decision in this case is likely to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, of the Court’s current term. Given the expedited nature of the case, it likely will not be long after the oral argument that the Court will issue its ruling.