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State v. Thermoid Co.

Decided: October 25, 1954.

THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, BY GROVER C. RICHMAN, JR., ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
THERMOID COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Superior Court, Chancery Division.

For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld, Burling, Jacobs and Brennan. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Wachenfeld, J.

Wachenfeld

In 1951 the Legislature enacted a statute providing for an alternate method of escheat of personal property. It was an amendment and a supplement to the original escheat statutes.

Under the authority of this act, N.J.S. 2 A:37-29 et seq., the State commenced the instant proceedings seeking to take into its protective custody unclaimed wages held by the defendant, Thermoid Corporation. An amended answer, in addition to the other defenses, posed the question of the constitutionality of the cited statute.

The court below determined all issues in favor of the State and entered judgment for $2,160.92, directing the defendant to pay that amount to the State Treasurer for safekeeping by him. Certification of the appeal from that conclusion was allowed on the court's own motion. R.R. 1:10-1(a).

The State contends the procedure followed by the Legislature in enacting the statute in question is not justiciable in these proceedings, firstly, because the constitutional provision relied on by the defendant is merely a procedural directive rather than a substantive requirement, and, secondly, because the objection to the legislative procedure has not been timely made nor has there been compliance with the statutory directive provided for raising such an objection. R.S. Cum. Supp. 1:7-1 to 7, inclusive.

Despite the worth of this argument, we conceive the merits of the constitutional question to be of sufficient importance to require a direct answer. Consequently, we have put aside

consideration of the reasons urged in the procedural matters to accomplish this purpose.

This leaves before us only one question, to wit, the constitutional integrity of N.J.S. 2 A:37, Art. 3, in the light of Art. IV, Sec. VI, par. 1, of the Constitution of 1947, which provides:

"All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the General Assembly; but the Senate may propose or concur with the amendments, as on other bills."

The defendant corporation argues the challenged statute is a bill for raising revenue, and having originated in the Senate, is thus violative of the quoted constitutional requirements.

It is conceded that both the original personal property escheat act of 1946 and the 1951 amendment, which is now Art. 3, had their origin in the Senate, as evidenced by the certificate ...


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