N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 1, Page 244


STATE OF NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1947
Tuesday, August 12, 1947
(Morning Session)

cers in the State Government. I feel that it is a grave mistake for our Convention to remove them from the status of constitutional officers.

In connection with the office of Secretary of State, I have made a careful study of the constitutions of all of the 48 states and not one, I repeat, not one state in our entire land, fails to give this important office constitutional status. This particular office has a long constitutional history. Before the adoption of the Constitution in 1776, we had a Provincial Secretary under the Crown. When the Constitution of 1776 was adopted it provided that the Provincial Secretary should continue in office in the capacity of Secretary of State. Article VII, Section II, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution of 1844 provides for the appointment of a Secretary of State. The Constitution of the United States also gives constitutional status to this office. I feel it would be a grave mistake for this Convention to give constitutional status to such officers as the State Auditor, county clerks, prosecutors, surrogates and sheriffs, and fail to include such a traditionally important officer as the Secretary of State. The Rights and Privileges Committee concurs in this viewpoint by a vote of ten to one. The committee included one of the many duties of the Secretary of State in its tentative draft, and in its covering letter to all delegates recommended that the office be given constitutional status.

The office of Attorney-General also comes down to us from the earliest days of the English common law. It is an office which has had constitutional recognition in this State for over a hundred years. Today it is a constitutional office in the constitution of every state in the Union. The office of Attorney-General is much more significant than merely being counsel to the Legislature and to the state officers and departments. In addition to this, the Attorney-General is what the name implies, a general attorney, not for state officials only, but far more important, an attorney for the people. The Attorney-General, in many cases, is the only official who can act on behalf of the people in declaring certain laws unconstitutional. In the past, the Attorney-General has acted as representative of the people in questioning the constitutionality of laws which are not in the best interest of all the people. If the Attorney-General does not have constitutional status, with the attendant right of exercising all of the common law privileges and constitutional powers of that office, then the same Legislature which might pass unconstitutional laws could curb his powers, vastly decreasing his effectiveness as a spokesman for the people.

Certainly, when every state in the Union, many of which have recently revised their state constitutions, retain the Secretary of State and the Attorney-General as constitutional officers, then New


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