N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 543

Wednesday, July 30, 1947 (Afternoon session)

Some of the greatest judges of New Jersey have been over 70 years of age - Justice Gummere, Justice Knapp, Justice Dixon, Justice Collins, and all the other great judges of the past. Justice Parker - he must be nearly 90 now and is still on the job and keeping everybody busy. In the Chancery Court, Vice-Chancellors are reaching the age of 70. Justice Hughes, over 80, was one of the ablest judges we had in the United States Supreme Court and we all were sorry when he left the bench recently. Oh, if he were only back there, and a few more like him, today, what a different picture we would have. Well, we won't talk about that. You are not concerned with that. But the picture is all there. Oliver Wendell Holmes! You and I read his opinions. Yet, Oliver Wendell Holmes was over 90 years of age when he signed his last opinion as a United States Supreme Court Justice.

Why, most men don't get high judicial positions until after they are 58 or 60, and they are 70 before they know it. To put them on the shelf then, or to make them law loafers of the State, what a mistake that would be! I'd say 75 at the lowest, and after 75 retire them. And then put them on the inactive list subject to the call of the Chief Justice, whoever he may be, at all times.

One other matter and I'll quit. This just comes to me; I didn't mention it in my note to you this morning. I have been talking to Mr. Justice Black of the Supreme Court. He is retired now. He is the oldest alumnus of Princeton University. Now, he must be about 88. His mind is clear. He is a neighbor of mine, also born in Jersey City - no, born in South Jersey but spent all his life in my town. He has one of the ablest minds in the State. What do you think he said to me the other day? He said, "I don't care what you do. I like the way you are going to set up the courts down there" - he meant the system that you are advocating now, in a general way - "but if you set them up that way, don't call the Equity Division, so-called, the Equity Division. That won't mean anything on God's earth. Call it the Chancery Division. Keep it the Chancery Division. Make the head of that Court the Chancellor."

The Chancellor is known all over the world. The Chancery Court is known from one end of the world to the other, and everybody respects it and respects its status and opinions.

Now, as a member of the Rights Committee, but speaking only for myself, I sincerely hope that you will do your full duty. Not less than 75, first; second, preserve the name of Chancery, if you can. It will please even the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellors, and if they are pleased, then nobody will be displeased when your work is finished.

That's the whole picture, and I leave it with you.

I want to thank you for letting me say these casual words.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, Judge.

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