N.J. Constitutional Convention: Vol. 4, Page 698


(Submitted July 18, 1947)

In following the news accounts of hearings before the Judiciary Committee, we have noted the emphasis of some witnesses regarding the appointment of judges that it be left "with the Governor as at present."

We would like to call to your attention what I am sure you all realize is true, that the appointment of judges is a power of the Governor in name only. The fact seems to be that the appointment is made in conference between the Senator of the county concerned and the Governor. The choice is influenced by political considerations, advice from organization leaders and, we trust, some thought as to candidate's ability. But the power of veto lies in the hands of the State Senator as far as he wishes to use it. The practice is indeed to make a fairly realistic bargain. The Senate, exercising Senatorial courtesy, uniformly acknowledges the power of the individual senator, concurs, and "consents" to the appointment.

What improvement would occur with appointment by the Governor from a list submitted to him from the Commission on Judicial Appointment? One cannot do away with all vestige of the tradition of Senatorial courtesy, - habitual performance is not reformed by legislation or changes in constitutional framework. But the suggested plan would do away with the secret bargaining in part. The Commission on Judicial Appointment would have at stake their own reputations for ability to judge professional excellence and character. The list would therefore presumptively meet qualifications in each name presented. We would in this way be more likely to avoid the appointment of men whose selection actually shocks the public conscience. This happens more often than rarely.

We recognize that this plan lessens both the power of the Governor and of the State Senator. The Governor's appointment could less often be for favors received for himself or the political party. The State Senator would be unlikely to veto a choice so openly arrived at and with so many persons involved.

Thank you for allowing us to remind you of the advantage of this plan of appointment, greater likelihood of improved personnel.

Gertrude M. Henderson For the Committee of the League of Women Voters on Judiciary Proposals

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