The Union Leader Wants More Claremonts

I previously posted about a constitutional amendment sponsored by State Senator Jeb Bradley that apparently is intended to do away with the standing requirement under which the New Hampshire Supreme Court dismissed the Duncan v. State of New Hampshire case challenging the constitutionality of New Hampshire’s education tax credit law:

When an individual without a personal stake in a case is allowed to have standing, a court is setting policy, not deciding an actual dispute. But setting policy is the role of popularly elected representatives, senators and governor, not tenured-to-age-70 judges. Bradley’s proposal, as described by the Concord Monitor, would convert the New Hampshire courts into essentially super-legislatures.

Today, the Union Leader came out in support of Bradley’s amendment.  The editorial began by claiming that, until a 2010 New Hampshire Supreme Court decision, every taxpayer at all times had the “right to sue the state over illegal laws.”  Not according to the Supreme Court:

We note that the “earlier line of cases” referenced in Baer, 160 N.H. at 730, did not address the precise issue with which we are faced in this case. In none of those cases did we address the constitutionality of allowing a taxpayer to sue without having to show that any personal right of his is impaired or prejudiced.

The gist of the rest of the Union Leader’s argument is this quote from the NHCLU at the hearing on the amendment: “After all, how strong is a legal right if no one can go to court to enforce it?” 

The quote is actually nonsensical.  Constitutional rights are freedom from government, not claims upon government.  As the Supreme Court stated in its opinion in Duncan v. State of New Hampshire, any plaintiff who can claim that his or her or its tax dollars are being used in violation of Part II, Article 83 would have standing to challenge the education tax credit law:

Our decision in this case does not mean that a taxpayer can never have standing to challenge governmental actions. When a taxpayer has a sufficiently personal and concrete interest to confer standing, the taxpayer may seek judicial relief. We hold only that the generalized interest in an efficient and lawful government, upon which the petitioners rely, and the amendment to RSA 491:22 which purports to confer standing, are not sufficient to meet the constitutional requirements necessary for standing to exist.

In other words, the right claimed by the plaintiffs in Duncan v. State was the right to a government that governs based on their vision of Part II, Article 83, more particularly a government that does not allow businesses to take education tax credits for funding scholarships to private schools.  But until someone can claim that their taxes are being used in a way that violates Part II, Article 83, education tax credits are a political issue to be decided at the ballot box, not in the courtroom.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court in the Claremont cases applied standing in a manner similar to the amendment proposed by Bradley:  “The right to an adequate education mandated by the constitution is not based on the exclusive needs of a particular individual, but rather is a right held by the public to enforce the State’s duty.  Any citizen has standing to enforce this right.”  

In other words, if you don’t like the way your local schools are run, don’t run for school board, bring a lawsuit, and try to convince the courts to rule that it is unconstitutional to not offer courses in Yupik.

I suppose the supporters of Bradley’s amendment would argue that the intent of the amendment is just to allow the courts to strike down “illegal laws,” not invent new constitutional rights.  Even assuming that the amendment could somehow be worded  to allow challenges to “illegal laws” but  bar Claremont 13 (or whatever number we are now up to), which I am dubious about, there remains the problem discussed above that lawsuits based on whether a law in theory, as opposed to in practice, is constitutional thrusts courts into a policy-making role.

Dear Concord Monitor, the Problem With State Pension System is the State Pension System

The Concord Monitor is out with an article titled “Chronic under-funding of state retirement system means big bill for taxpayers.

I previously discussed the New Hampshire Retirement System here, here, here and here.  It is a topic worthy of discussion because, as the Concord Monitor article notes: Continue reading Dear Concord Monitor, the Problem With State Pension System is the State Pension System

Why Does Jeb Bradley Want Turn New Hampshire Courts Into a Super-Legislature?

Lat year, the New Hampshire Supreme Court issued its decision in Duncan v. State, which involved the constitutionality of a law that allowed businesses tax credits for funding scholarships for private schools.

The trial court had found the law unconstitutional (see related post here).  The Supreme Court reversed, finding that the plaintiffs (the parties who brought the lawsuit) did not have “standing” to sue. Continue reading Why Does Jeb Bradley Want Turn New Hampshire Courts Into a Super-Legislature?

A Football Coach and Quarterback Get More Scrutiny From Press Than POTUS

I would analogize deflategate to driving  70 miles per hour in a 65 miles-per-hour zone.  It’s something a lot of drivers do and it doesn’t hurt anybody.  Playing with an underinflated football in the first half the Patriots scored 17 points.  Playing with a football inflated to league specifications in the second half the Pats scored 28 points.

Yet  from the press scrutiny given to deflategate, you would think Belichick and Brady won a presidential election by promising that they would insure all of the uninsured without affecting everyone else’s health insurance (If you like your plan …) or their ability to continue seeing their doctors (If you like your doctor …), except to decrease their premiums by $2,500.00 per year, while knowing that every one of those promises was false. Continue reading A Football Coach and Quarterback Get More Scrutiny From Press Than POTUS

The New Hampshire Press Speaks in Democrat

Check out these tweets from the Union Leader’s Gary Rayno and from NHPR:










And here is a headline from today’s online Union Leader:





The phrase “budget shortfall” suggests that not enough taxes were collected to cover the spending budgeted for the Health and Human Services Department.  But tax receipts are actually ahead of what was anticipated.  So the phrase “budget shortfall” is  being used to describe HHS spending more than was budgeted. Continue reading The New Hampshire Press Speaks in Democrat

Democrats Talk About Minimum Wage Like it Should be a Way of Life

As advertised, President Obama’s seventh (and for those Americans fatigued of liberal memes (a recent Pew poll has global warming near the bottom of the list of American’s priorities, for example) thankfully second to last ) State of the Union Speech, was replete with red meat for his liberal base.

One predictable slice of red meat was repeating the call to raise the minimum wage: “If you truly believe you could work full time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it.”  The Democrats want to raise the minimum wage to $10.00 an hour, which based on a 37.5 hour work-week translates into annual income of $19,500.00.  Not much of a difference. Continue reading Democrats Talk About Minimum Wage Like it Should be a Way of Life

Not All Budget Holes Are Created Equal

The New Hampshire Senate GOP showcased their proposal to reduce New Hampshire’s high business taxes today.  Here is the bill.  It’s actually a very modest proposal, reducing business taxes from 8.5 percent to 8.0 percent over three years.  But that didn’t stop the Democrats from claiming that the sky is falling: Continue reading Not All Budget Holes Are Created Equal

New Taxes Proposed by Obama and by New Hampshire Democrats Will Hurt, Not Help, Middle Class

President Obama’s and the Democrat Party’s record when it comes to the middle class is abysmal.

According to the Federal Reserve, families in the middle fifth of the income scale now earn less and their net worth is lower than when Obama took office.   According to an analysis by Reuters, during Obama’s tenure, jobs have been added at the top and bottom of the wage scale, but lost in the middle.

Efficiency innovation (reducing the cost of making and distributing existing products and services) has led to the loss of middle class jobs, but there is nothing new about that.  It’s happened throughout history.  The reason that the middle class has fallen behind during Obama’s tenure is that there has not been enough empowering innovation, the development of new technologies that create good jobs. Continue reading New Taxes Proposed by Obama and by New Hampshire Democrats Will Hurt, Not Help, Middle Class

The Ironic Demise of Judge John Lewis

Retired Superior Court Judge John Lewis’ most well-known decision is probably his ruling in Duncan v. State of New Hampshire, in which he ruled that New Hampshire’s education tax credit law violated the New Hampshire Constitution’s prohibition on using taxes to fund religious schools (“no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of schools or institution of any religious sect or denomination”).  The decision made him a hero of the New Hampshire left. Continue reading The Ironic Demise of Judge John Lewis