New Jersey Appeals Court strikes down labor union contribution ban
By Kyle Maichle
TRENTON, New Jersey: The New Jersey Court of Appeals on May 7, 2010 rejected an executive order issued by Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie that limited campaign contributions from labor unions.
After Christie was sworn into office, one of his first executive orders was to expand the state's campaign finance laws to put stricter requirements on labor unions who are state contractors. The order called for any union that has a state contract over $17,500 to abide by a strict $300 contribution limit for statewide campaigns. The order was backed by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Various labor unions in the state filed a lawsuit after the executive order was signed claiming that the stricter limits violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on the principle of free speech. Union leaders who participated in the suit feel that the executive order would have curtailed their participation in the political process.
When the court issued its ruling, the three judge panel found that the executive order violated the separation of powers clause in the New Jersey Constitution. Also, the court found that the new contribution limits cannot be enforced unilaterally by an executive order. The written ruling from the three judge panel stated: "we simply hold that what (the executive order) seeks to achieve must be pursued through legislation."
Governor Christie has until July 1, 2010, to determine if he will appeal the ruling to the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Governor told reporters in a press conference after the ruling was issued that he would consider all options before making a decision to appeal.