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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Giralo

Perspective/Atlantic County Clerk

Joseph J. Giralo, County Clerk

This month I want to talk about the New Jersey Constitution. New Jersey has during the course of history had only three Constitutions. The one that is currently in affect is now 75 years old. It was first adopted by a convention of delegates and then by the voters of the State in 1947.

The “new” Constitution further strengthened the Office of the Governor and reorganized and unified the judicial system under the Supreme Court. This “new” Constitution also included new rights and protections and required the legislature to provide for a “through and efficient system for free public schools.”

There are 11 articles to the document that was voted on by the people in 1947. It is this constitution that said a governor may only serve two four-year terms as the governor. There were many discussions in the creation of this document that the governor should only be allowed to serve one three-year term. The two four-year term was the compromise.

It should be noted that the legendary State Senator from Atlantic County Frank S. “Hap” Farley had a huge amount of influence into the creation of this document.

Similarly, when the state tried unsuccessfully a few years prior to create a new constitution that it was Farley (a Republican) and a contingent a few northern New Jersey Democrats that torpedoed the original rewrite of the Constitution years earlier.

Upon reading and reviewing the 1947 document I found it interesting that elected officials of course can do oaths of office, marry people but by section 7 of article iv “no divorce can be granted by the legislature” … interesting.

Next it is clear in the constitution that the oath of office of elected officials in New Jersey be as follows “I do solemnly promise and swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully, impartially and justly perform all the duties of the office of …, to the best of my ability and understanding...”

It is wonderful that this language has stood the test of time and is still used today. In fact, when administering notary oaths they are the words that are used several times each and everyday at clerk’s offices around the state.

So if you are a notary or an elected official you will fully understand exactly where the language for you oath came from and the person administering that oath is following the constitution of the State of New Jersey.

So when attending the swearing-in of an elected official, or visiting a clerk’s office as the legendary Paul Harvey always said “now you know the rest of the story.”

I wrote about our constitution because this is the 75th anniversary of the document and it should not go unnoticed.

As always the Atlantic County Clerk’s office is here is assist you, please feel free to call us at (609) 625-4011.

Lastly, wishing everyone a healthy and happy new year.

Joseph J. Giralo

Atlantic County Clerk


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