Former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Alan B. Handler is a resident of Delaware Township and served from 1977- 1999. He attended Princeton University, graduating with a degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1953. After receiving his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1956, he entered private legal practice in Newark. In 1977, he was appointed as Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court by then-Governor Brendan Byrne.
Justice Handler wrote the decision in the education funding case of Abbott v Burke, which was the lawsuit that challenged New Jersey's system of financing public education under the Public School Education Act of 1975. Abbott v. Burke is widely recognized as the most important education litigation for poor and minority schoolchildren since Brown v. Board of Education.
The Court's ruling in Abbott v. Burke, and its related subsequent cases, directed the New Jersey State Legislature to enact laws to “assure” funding for the urban districts: 1) at the foundation level “substantially equivalent” to that in the successful suburban districts; and 2) “adequate” to provide for the supplemental programs necessary to address the extreme disadvantages of urban schoolchildren.
So, when you hear on the news about the '31 Abbott districts' in the state, you'll know that it was Justice Handler's major contribution to provide a "thorough and efficient education" for students in economically challenged districts in New Jersey.