Ordered Liberty: A Constitutional History of New York

By Peter J. Galie | Go to book overview

gle task, in a group small enough for ordered, intimate discussion, but large enough to entertain a representative range of alternatives. Since its work had to be considered by the legislature and ratified by the people, little if any popular control over the process was lost. In terms of focus, size, and expertise, the state seemed to have stumbled on an effective tool to accomplish needed constitutional reform.

By the turn of the twentieth century, the value of the constitutional commission had been established. Such commissions could be employed for a variety of purposes and structured in a number of different ways. They have been recommended by the governor and appointed by the legislature ( Constitutional Commission of 1872); recommended and appointed by the governor ( Tilden Commission, 1875), and they have functioned as preparatory commissions created in anticipation of impending conventions. Since 1867 legislatures have directed that information relevant to conventions be prepared and presented to the delegates. The full import of such preparatory commissions was not realized until the 1915 convention. Beyond the immediate impact of that commission's work on that convention's decisions, its careful and thorough research would continue to shape the contours of constitutional change for the next quarter century. The use and development of constitutional commissions would continue throughout the twentieth century. 55


NOTES
1.
Message to the legislature, January 26, 1871, Lincoln, ed., Messages From the Governors, VI, pp. 263-264.
2.
Lincoln ( Constitutional History, II, p. 466) speculates that this failure was related to the fact that a proposal was under consideration by the legislature to create a constitutional commission.
3.
Messages From the Governors, VI, p. 393.
4.
Ibid., VI, pp. 393-404.
5.
Laws of New York, Chap. 884 ( 1872).
6.
Journal of the Constitutional Commission of the State of New York, 1872-1873 ( Albany: Weed Parsons & Co., 1973), p. 338 (hereafter Journal).
7.
Esler v. Walters, 56 N.Y. 2d 306 ( 1982), at 314.
8.
Warren Moscow, Politics in the Empire State ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1948), p. 225.
9.
25. Hun 456 ( 1881).
10.
Laws of New York, Chap. 539 ( 1853).
11.
Journal, p. 474.
12.
In Re Guden, 171, N.Y. 529 ( 1902).
13.
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers, ed. Isaac Kramnick ( New York: Penguin Books edition, 1987), Numbers 62-66.

-155-

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