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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bill to study how to create ‘balanced, neutral’ judiciary alive in Senate

CONCORD – Legislation to study how to create “a balanced and neutral judiciary” has passed the House and now sits before a Senate committee.

House Bill 1131 was amended and passed by a vote of the full House of Representatives and is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee. A hearing was held on the bill Thursday, and the committee hasn’t yet voted whether to recommend its passage, according to the Senate clerk.

Under its provisions, a study committee would consist of three members of the House appointed by the House speaker and two members of the Senate appointed by the Senate president.

The bill describes the committee’s mission with the broadest of brush strokes: “The committee shall study methods of creating a balanced and neutral judiciary.”

By its wording, the legislation seems to presuppose the current judiciary is weighted and partial.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Joshua Davenport, R-Newmarket, said he believes courts’ neutrality has eroded over time.

“You want a neutral body to adjudicate constitutional issues,” Davenport said. “You don’t want a bias.”

He said the issue cuts across the political aisles – both parties have complained at times that the courts have been biased one way or another.