Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Laws of the Great Garden State

Our good friends at the ACLU of New Jersey asked the New Jersey Law Revision Commission to recommend that the New Jersey state legislature remove two laws from the New Jersey statutes --- two laws that have been held unconstitutional. The ACLU succeeded. It took four years, but because of the persistant efforts of Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director of the ACLU the job is now done. Click here for the post on BlueJersey.com by Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director of the ACLU.

The two laws are:

(1) A now out-of-date law requiring that students stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. This was ruled unconstitutional by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals almost 30 years ago and by the U.S. Supreme Court more than 60 years ago.

(2) A law requiring that minors seeking abortions notify a parent. This was ruled unconstitutional in an ACLU-NJ/Planned Parenthood challenge in 2000.

It seemed reasonable and prudent that the Law Revision Commission acted promptly this year and did what was necessary to help NJ residents avoid any further confusion on the issue. However, before they made the change, according to an article in the May 14th New Jersey Law Journal, the NJ Law Review Commission considered that such changes were too “controversial”. Seems that they were concerned that no one in the legislature would want to appear to vote against the Pledge of Allegience or on the issue of abortion.

Such decisions, of course, should not be political.

Kudos to Law Revision folks, on doing your job. Quadruple kudos to Deborah for her vigilance in keeping up this effort for all these years. For that effort, New Jersey thanks you.

In the future, maybe there are some easier laws the Law Revision Commission might want to start with, just to kick up their juices in order to get ready for the tougher laws...

Perhaps there are other laws still on the NJ books --- that we just don’t need or need to be updated.

Check these out:

N.J.S.A. 39:4-85. Passing to left when overtaking; passing when in lines; signaling to pass; passing upon right

The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass at a safe distance to the left thereof and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle….

The driver of an overtaking motor vehicle not within a business or residence district
shall give audible warning with his horn or other warning device before passing or attempting to pass a vehicle proceeding in the same direction….

“…or other warning device”? Hmmm, what could legally pass for an “other warning device”?

Perhaps, it is not only legal to flip the finger to the driver in the next car when you pass him ----maybe it is required by N.J.S.A. 39:4-85. So when you’re on the NJ Turnpike, drive courteously, and follow the law. You don’t want to get points on your license, and up those already high New Jersey insurance rates. Go for the gold.

Another law the Law Review Commission should look at is ---

N.J.S.A 36:2-54

"Kindness Awareness Month in New Jersey" designated.

1.The month of May of each year is hereby designated as "Kindness Awareness Month in New Jersey." All citizens of this State are urged to partake in educational programs and activities to foster kindness.

Hmm. So, now kindness is legislated in NJ --- but only in May.
And giving loud or noticeable warnings to passing cars on the NJTpke or GSP is a must.

So, for the rest of the month, [especially the coming holiday weekend]--- be kind when passing cars, and signal them appropriately.

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