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Impact of Faculty Scholarship on Public Policy Shown in NJ Supreme Court COAH Decision

September 26, 2013 – 

When John M. Payne, Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, died in June 2009, he was widely remembered as a key intellectual force and a leading lawyer in the Mt. Laurel cases.

Today’s New Jersey Supreme Court decision striking down the Third Round Rules and enforcing the Mt. Laurel doctrine made extensive reference to the work of Professor Payne, who taught at the law school for almost 38 years.  

From affordable housing and women’s rights to educational opportunity and international human rights, Rutgers School of Law–Newark has a celebrated reputation for scholarship in action. Commenting on the COAH opinion, Acting Dean Ronald K. Chen said: “Scholars and John’s colleagues may argue about whether he would have agreed with the use of his ‘growth share’ methodology in the way that the rejected Third Round Rules attempted to use them, but nevertheless it is satisfying to note another example of how our collective scholarship has concrete impact on important public policy issues.”

Professor Payne’s pioneering work helped establish the legal basis for providing affordable housing to low and moderate-income residents in New Jersey and nationally. His nationally recognized Mt. Laurel advocacy and scholarship led to a reconceptualization of the field of housing law and a shift in thinking from a world in which there was no right to housing opportunity to one where such an opportunity is considered fundamental.

The continuing impact on important issues of public policy by John Payne and other faculty is the subject of an article by George W. Conk ’73, Adjunct Professor of Law and Senior Fellow, Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics, Fordham Law School. As Conk writes in “People’s Electric: Engaged Legal Education at Rutgers–Newark Law School in the 1960s and 1970s” (40 Fordham Urban Law Jrnl 503, 2012), “Their achievements are carved in the law books, not the law reviews.”

Conk will discuss the article at the Wednesday, October 2, 2013 First Monday event, scheduled from 4 – 6 pm, which is sponsored by the school’s Neisser Public Interest Program.