N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 246


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947 COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
Thursday, July 3, 1947 (Afternoon session)

should not be changed by any action of the Legislature, but would require constitutional amendment.

Now, the schedule which must accompany any new draft must be carefully prepared, and there is grave danger in the results which may follow if the Court of Chancery is merged with the law courts. I don't intend to go into any extensive detail, but I do think there is one example, and it won't take me long to cite it.

In 1944 the Legislature passed what has commonly been referred to as the Anti-Injunction Act in labor disputes. In the case of Westinghouse Electric Corporation v United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, 138 N. J. Eq. - and the Court of Errors and Appeals just passed on it, I think, in the December term, 1946 - Vice-Chancellor Bigelow held that this act was unconstitutional as depriving injured persons of the constitutional privilege to invoke Chancery's jurisdiction to grant aid where the common law courts afforded no adequate remedy. In this ruling the learned Vice-Chancellor was reversed by our Court of Errors and Appeals, and the court held that the statute under examination was merely procedural and that therefore it was within the power of the Legislature to modify the procedure. Vice-Chancellor Bigelow conceded that; but he said it wasn't procedural. It went right to the inherent jurisdiction of the court. And here is the significant statement that was made by our Court of Errors and Appeals, and I don't think it can be said to be purely dictum, because it was essential to the decision - the court there said it was within the power of the Legislature, and the Legislature exercised that power, by stating what acts of the employees could not be restrained or enjoined.

We thus have, by judicial interpretation, a pronouncement by our highest court of the limitation on the court of equity to grant injunctive relief against certain actions committed in a labor dispute. From that it can be argued that this interpretation is a limitation on the inherent jurisdiction of the court, although it was imposed by statute. As a result thereof - of the limitation on our Court of Chancery in granting injunctions in labor disputes - it might be argued in the future, and our courts might hold, that the provisions of the Anti-Injunction Act could not be modified by any subsequent act of the Legislature if the new Constitution is adopted and an adequate safeguard against the result is provided. Conceivably, it might require further constitutional amendment if the Legislature saw fit, in its wisdom, to change the public policy of this State in treating of labor disputes.

MR. THOMAS J. BROGAN: Do I understand that you do not think that the position of the Court of Errors and Appeals is right in that case?

MR. GILHOOLY: Well, my private conviction is that Vice-


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