N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 305

Tuesday, July 8, 1947 (Morning session)

MRS. MILLER: No, I haven't.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Is there anyone here representing the Manufacturers Association? If not -

MR. WINNE: Judge William Smith of the Federal District Court is in the room. I don't want to embarrass him, but if we could get him to speak -

VICE-CHAIRMAN: This is Judge William Smith, United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey. You know most of the members of the Committee.


MR. McGRATH: Do you believe in right of tenure subject to good behavior?


VICE-CHAIRMAN: Will you let us have your thoughts on that, Judge? Just a moment. Let's have the Judge present his own thoughts.

JUDGE SMITH: No, I think maybe the question system would be better because, from what I have read in the newspapers, most of the experts who have appeared here, or many of them, have pointed to the federal system as a model of a unitary court or an integrated court, whatever you want to call it, and I suppose the question system would be the better one.

MR. McGRATH: I meant that seriously.

JUDGE SMITH: On the life tenure, I think it has many advantages, not because I am a young judge who now enjoys a life tenure, because we come back to a suggestion of the previous speaker - the appointment of judges free of politics. I agree with the Chief Justice, that it is practically impossible, because any judge who has been appointed - and that includes Cardozo - was at some time in his history or career a member of one or the other political party. And I agree with Judge McGrath that if he weren't a member of one or the other political party, he would probably not be best fulfilling his function, prior to his appointment as a citizen, because he can best participate in our form of government by being a member, and that whether he's a Democrat or Republican or Socialist.

The life tenure does free the judge from the petty pressure that sometimes arises, not from important people, but from unimportant people who never approach the situation with propriety. Life tenure frees him of politics, at least from the time of his appointment and thereafter, and he does become, insofar as possible, a judge free to function independently. For that reason, I agree with life tenure and holding office during good behavior.

I don't believe the Missouri plan answers anything insofar as the appointment in the first place is concerned, because there again the commission is usually selected in the same manner as the governor

Previous Page in Book ********* Table of Contents *********** Next Page in Book