N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 430

Thursday, July 10, 1947 (Afternoon session)

can't too strongly stress what, in my judgment, is the desirable method, namely, a uniform method: appointment by the Governor subject to senatorial confirmation, either with or without the assistance of a selection commission.

As one considers the miracle that occurred in Philadelphia in 1787 in the light of the present great Convention, I am convinced that the framers of the federal document, if they were to return to this Convention, would be among the first to express surprise that the framework that they designed is still the framework of our political institutions. The judicial docket throughout the nation has increased a thousand-fold, and then some. Our State Constitution is in marked contrast, insofar as the Judicial Article is concerned, to the Federal Constitution. The Federal Constitution in its provisions for a judiciary is brief and very much to the point. Ours is elaborate and complicated and confusing. As Professor Powell of Harvard once pointed out, your predecessors in Philadelphia left open the way for change by what they left undone. "In framing their grants to the new national government," he said, "they contented themselves with making great outlines designating important objects, leaving to the future the dedication of minor problems." It was, he added, "a Constitution that did not create a narrow prison, and it was not prolix nor did it contain a legal code."

The second question that I would like to discuss with you following that preliminary introduction is the question of form. I do hope that within reasonable limitations we may follow the example of the Federal Constitution, and that you men and women will be known in the future as much by what you didn't put into the Constitution as by what you have put in. Accordingly, I would limit the Judicial Article to the provision for a Supreme Court - and since I understand that there is a possibility of some confusion of terms, we will call it a top court; you may ultimately designate it as a Court of Appeals - composed of not less than seven, certainly not more than nine, members - preferably seven. This court should, in my judgment, have jurisdiction comparable to that of the United States Supreme Court; it should be the court of last resort, so far as this State is concerned, in all causes.

Beneath the Supreme Court I would hope that we might provide for a great court of general jurisdiction, having jurisdiction over civil causes, criminal causes, and equity causes. The Chief Justice of this new Supreme Court of ours should be given substantial administrative authority. He should be in a position, in consultation with his fellow-members of the Supreme Court, to assign judges to hear causes and to provide for the creation of a number of appellate tribunals to which appeals from the General Court would be taken. I would prefer that the members of these intermediate courts of appeal were drawn from the General Court.

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