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Proceedings and Debates of the 1967 Constitutional Convention
Volume 104, Volume 1, Debates 237   View pdf image (33K)
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[Oct. 12] DEBATES 237
follows the line of the constitution adopted
by that great convention in Philadelphia so
many years ago. It should be flexible. It
should in my judgment strengthen each
branch of the government.
In the course of your debates, you will
on many occasions be tempted to adopt
legislation. You will be wise to guard
against this natural temptation by the ju-
dicious and conscientious exercise of that
statesmanship to which I have referred.
You will need will power.
The state constitution is an organic docu-
ment, a basis for government. It should
not be a series of legislative enactments.
If you put too much legislation into the
constitution, the end result will be frustra-
tion. When legislation is permitted to be put
into a constitution, it frequently shackles
one branch of the government or another
branch of the government.
To quote one authority, the more precise
and elaborate the provisions of the constitu-
tion, the greater are the obstacles to the
reform of abuses. Litigation thrives on con-
stitutional verbosity.
There is a way out of the dilemma. I
suspect from what I have heard today here
in Annapolis that you have already wisely
chosen that way. That is, when in your
judgment a proposal is legislative in char-
acter, that there be a presentment to the
governor with the understanding the gov-
ernor in turn will submit the proposals con-
tained in the presentment to the legislature
for their consideration. It has worked well
for us in New Jersey, and we had a num-
ber of presentments. The result was we
came out with one of the shortest constitu-
tions of all the constitutions in the country,
approximately 10,000 words.
I would like to touch on the three
branches of government briefly and I am
certainly not, I hope you will understand
this, not presuming to pose as an authority,
although the task of constitution-making is
near and dear to my heart, not only as a
former governor, but as president of the
National Municipal League, which has been
developing model constitutions over the
THE GOVERNMENT. Appropriate terms
should be established for the legislative
branch of the government so they are not
running all the time. We have the un-
enviable record of having our house of as-
sembly, our lower house, running every
year. So that you can imagine where their
minds were when the governor was trying
to get a program through. They were won-
dering not whether the program was a
good program, but how the people back
home would think about the program and
would they have an opportunity to educate
the people to the point where they would
support it? We lengthened the term of our
House of Assembly and we lengthened the
term of our senators. We also lengthened
the term of the governor.
While I am talking about elections, I
might say that we decided that we would
not have the governor elected in a year in
which a president was to be selected, be-
cause in a presidential year the issues are
likely to be largely federal in character and
state issues become submerged and are not
given the thoughtful attention which they
frequently deserve.
We were of the opinion that this would
be a good idea, and it was such a good idea
that a person other than my own party
succeeded me because he did not have to
run when Eisenhower ran.
The duty confronting you today is not
unlike that confronting the authors of the
Declaration of Independence as explained
by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Henry
Lee. The important task, Jefferson wrote,
was not to find out new principles, or new
arguments never before thought of, not
merely to say things which had never been
said before, but to place before mankind
the common sense of the subject in terms
so plain and firm as to command their con-
So while you strengthen the legislative
branch by giving it appropriate terms, so
also it seems to me that as a believer in a
strong governor, that you should strengthen
the position of the governor.
There is one particular proposition that
I touched upon when I appeared before
the committee this morning that I would
like to touch upon again. We had not only
the traditional checks and balances, but we
had checks and balances within the execu-
tive branch of our government under the
old constitution. This gave the governor a
good alibi. He could say, well, I did not
appoint him and I am not responsible for
him. He was either elected by the people, or
he was elected by a joint session of the
It seems to me a governor has a right,
or should have a right to appoint the heads
of the various departments, with perhaps
certain rare exceptions, where it may be
desirable for the governor to appoint a

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1967 Constitutional Convention
Volume 104, Volume 1, Debates 237   View pdf image (33K)
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