New Jersey Constitution

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New Jersey Constitution
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The Constitution of the State of New Jersey is the basic governing document of the state of New Jersey.


The New Jersey Constitution mirrors many of the basic provisions contained in the United States Constitution but also contains several unique provisions (e.g., rules pertaining to the operation of casinos).[1]


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to New Jersey Constitution states:

We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and transmit the same unimpaired to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution.[2]

Article I: Rights and Privileges

Article I of the New Jersey Constitution is entitled "Rights and Privileges" and consists of a single section with 22 paragraphs. It establishes the rights and freedoms inherent people and relevant operation of the government. The rights discussed in this article largely mirror the United States Constitution. Such rights include freedom of speech, a speedy and public trial and religious freedom. Article I also contains a Victims' Bill of Rights.

Article II: Elections and Suffrage

Article II of the New Jersey Constitution is entitled "Elections and Suffrage" and consists of two sections. It details the dates for elections of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and members of the New Jersey Legislature. It establishes the qualifications necessary for voting and states that the right of suffrage may be removed from certain convicted criminals.

Article III: Distribution of the Powers of Government

Article III of the New Jersey Constitution is entitled "Distribution of the Powers of Government" and consists of one section. It details the policy of separation of powers. The three branches, executive, judicial and legislative, are created and defined.

Article IV: Legislative

Article IV of the New Jersey Constitution is entitled "Legislative" and consists of eight sections. It establishes the bicameral New Jersey Legislature.

Article V: Executive

Article V of the New Jersey Constitution is entitled "Executive" and consists of four sections. It enacts the executive branch (constitutionally, only the office of governor). It also creates the layout for terms of office, the succession of future governors and the process of gubernatorial elections. The executive and administrative offices, departments, and instrumentalities of the state government are placed under the supervision of the Governor. The Governor has the ability to appoint the Secretary of State and the Attorney General with the consent of the New Jersey Senate, though he also can appoint the Lieutenant Governor to serve as Secretary of State without consent of the Senate.

Article VI: Judicial

Article VI of the New Jersey Constitution is entitled "Judicial" and consists of eight sections. It creates the Judicial branch and permits the establishment, alteration and abolishment of any court other than the Supreme Court. The positions in the Supreme Court are described, as well as its ultimate and final authority following the Constitution.

Article VII: Public Officers and Employees

Article VII of the New Jersey Constitution is entitled "Public Officers and Employees" and consists of three sections. It involves public officers and employees, including roles, appointment and nomination, compensation, promotions, affirmations and powers.

Article VIII: Taxation and Finance

Article VIII of the New Jersey Constitution is entitled "Taxation and Finance" and consists of five sections. It establishes the act of taxation.

Article IX: Amendments

Article IX of the New Jersey Constitution is entitled "Amendments" and details the amendment process to the constitution. A potential amendment is submitted through the Senate or General Assembly. The amendment is then voted upon by the both houses. If it gathers at least three-fifths of the houses' vote, the amendment can then be submitted to the people of New Jersey to vote. If a majority votes for the amendment, the amendment is passed on the thirtieth day after the vote.

Article X: General Provisions

Article X of the New Jersey Constitution is entitled "General Provisions" and contains miscellaneous items of the constitution. For example, this article includes the naming the official seal of the state (The Great Seal of the State of New Jersey). It also states that the constitution go into effect the first day of 1948.

Article XI: Schedule

Article XI of the New Jersey Constitution is entitled "Schedule" and consists of seven sections. It is an enumerated list of amendments to the constitution in order of their addition. Sections I through IV, were adopted with the rest of the constitution. Essentially, this section of the article records the development of the constitution through amendments.

Amending the constitution

See also: Article IX, New Jersey Constitution and Laws governing ballot measures in New Jersey

There is only one way to amend the New Jersey Constitution and that is through a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. New Jersey is one of six states that has no provision for a constitutional convention.

New Jersey has several unusual requirements for proposed amendments:

  • It has an either/or system for qualifying a proposed amendment for the ballot. A proposed amendment can be passed by simple majority in two separate legislative sessions, or by a 60% supermajority vote of one session. Connecticut and Hawaii have a similar "either/or" requirement, except that Connecticut requires a 75% supermajority and Hawaii requires a 2/3rds supermajority.
  • If a proposed amendment fails, it (or a similar but not identical amendment) can't go back on the ballot "before the third general election thereafter."

New Jersey has several common requirements as well:

  • Proposed amendments must adhere to the single-subject rule.
  • Once on the ballot, a simple majority of voters must approve a measure for it to go in the constitution.


New Jersey's first constitution was written in 1776, revised in 1844 and then rewritten in 1947. The 1947 constitution expanded the Bill of Rights to include equal rights for women and also introduced an anti-discrimination provision. Furthermore, the new constitution strengthened gubernatorial authority, putting all executive agencies under the governor's control and permitting the governor to be re-elected. Prior to the 1947 constitution, the governor could only serve one four-year term.[3]

See also

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