On appeal from the Superior Court, Appellate Division, whose opinions are reported at N.J. Super. (1982).
For affirmance -- Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Pashman, Clifford, Schreiber, Handler, Pollock and O'Hern. For reversal -- None.
This case presents an attack upon the validity of Chapter 1 of the Laws of 1982, which delineates districts throughout the State for the election of members to the House of Representatives of the United States Congress. Passage of the legislation became necessary following the release of the results of the 1980 decennial census and notification to the Governor that the total number of members in the House of Representatives to which the State of New Jersey was entitled had been reduced from 15 to 14. See 2 U.S.C.A. § 2a(b). The challenge to the congressional redistricting enactment was brought on the petition of several current members of the House of Representatives as citizens of the State under N.J.S.A. 1:7-4. The constitutional question raised by their petition is narrow. They contend that L. 1982, c. 1 was not enacted in conformity with the requirements for the passage of legislation prescribed by Article IV, § 4, para. 6 of the New Jersey Constitution (1947).*fn1
The Appellate Division sustained the validity of the statute. There was, however, a dissent, entitling petitioners to appeal to this Court as a matter of right pursuant to R. 2:2-1. Upon receipt of the notice of appeal, we accelerated consideration of
the matter. The initial adversary parties in the case were the petitioners and the Attorney General. In addition, the Court granted the applications of the Speaker of the General Assembly and the General Assembly, and the President of the Senate and the Senate to intervene as parties-respondent, all of whom, with the Attorney General, defend the validity of the enactment.
We have concluded that the passage of L. 1982, c. 1 was not violative of the requirements prescribed by Art. IV, § 4, para. 6 of the New Jersey Constitution (1947). Accordingly, the validity of the statute on this ground is sustained. We reach this determination substantially for the reasons found persuasive by the majority of the court below and, therefore, affirm the judgment of the Appellate Division, 185 N.J. Super. 582.
The facts of this case are undisputed. On January 12, 1982, S-711 was introduced in the New Jersey Senate and given its first reading. It was advanced to second reading on that date and six days later, on January 18, 1982, it was given its third reading, passed by the Senate by a vote of 21 to 18, and then delivered to the General Assembly.
Contemporaneously with this action in the Senate regarding S-711, the General Assembly had before it an identical congressional redistricting bill, A-605. The substantive contents of both S-711 and A-605 were absolutely identical; the only divergence between the two consisted of their respective assigned numbers, the names of their sponsors and the color of their paper backers.*fn2
A-605 was also introduced on January 12, 1982, and given its first and second readings on that date. On January 14, 1982, official notice was given in the Legislative Digest that A-605 was placed on the General Assembly's Board List for consideration at its January 18, 1982 session. On January 18, 1982, six
days after A-605 had been given its second reading, S-711 was received from the Senate with its accompanying request of the Assembly's concurrence therein. The General Assembly determined to substitute S-711 for A-605. It gave S-711 its first reading and, on the same date, pursuant to a special motion, it was given its second reading. Thereafter, also on January 18, 1982, the Assembly adopted, by voice vote, a motion to substitute S-711 for A-605. This was done pursuant to Rule 15:20 of the Rules of the General Assembly, which provides:
When a bill originating in the Senate shall have been delivered to this House, with a message that the Senate has passed the same and requesting the concurrence of this House therein, and a bill identical therewith, originating in this House, is then pending in this House, the Senate Bill may be substituted for such Assembly Bill, on motion of a sponsor of such Assembly Bill, upon or after the second reading of the Assembly Bill and the Senate Bill may then be advanced to, and have, third reading and be passed in substitution for the Assembly Bill and take the usual course of passed bills and the sponsors of the Assembly Bill may, upon the motion of one of them, be added as co-sponsors of the Senate Bill, with the Senator or Senators who were sponsors of the Senate Bill in the Senate and the names of such co-sponsors shall be endorsed upon the jacket containing the Senate ...