Ordered Liberty: A Constitutional History of New York

By Peter J. Galie | Go to book overview
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its acceptance proved too much for the electorate to accept, at least in its entirety. Elites from a variety of quarters, such as government, business, and the academy, recognized that the constitutional structure of the state as it had evolved in the nineteenth century would not enable the state to play an active and effective role in managing a social order characterized by a dynamism seldom witnessed in world history, let alone the history of the state or nation.

The first third of the twentieth century was a period in New York's constitutional development in which the values of efficiency and effective government replaced the nineteenth-century constitutional tradition which had emphasized democratization, decentralization, and the delimitation of governmental power. Executive reorganization, the short ballot, and an executive budget system, as well as a four-year term for the governor, were effective in shifting the balance from decentralization and democratic participation to a more centralized and efficient governing apparatus. The governor would be the fulcrum: popularly elected, providing energy and direction, and equipped with the tools for effective governance. It may be more accurate to say that there was a shift from a decentralized, locally oriented, legislatively based representation to a centralized, state-oriented, executive-based representation. That shift would be the central defining feature of New York's governmental system into the 1980s. The legislature would continue to provide a district-oriented focus, but its role in shaping the policies of the state would be radically altered, if not significantly diminished.

Poletti Reports ( 1938), VI, Problems Relating to the Bill of Rights and General Welfare, pp. 145-146.
E.g., Bennett v. Boyle, 40 Barb. 551 ( 1864).
Lewis Orgel, Valuation Under Eminent Domain as quoted in Constitutional Convention Committee Reports, Vol. 6: Bill of Rights and General Welfare, pp. 129-130.
Orgel, Valuation Under Eminent Domain, pp. 133-134.
Cancemi v. People, 18 N.Y. 128 ( 1858); People v. Cosmo, 205 N.Y. 91( 1912).
Howard Gillman, The Constitution Besieged ( Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), pp. 32-45.
Laws of New York, Chap. 635 ( 1910), known popularly as the Wainwright Law.


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Ordered Liberty: A Constitutional History of New York
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