State v. Wood

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
Citation7 A. 286,49 N.J.L. 85
PartiesSTATE ex rel. RANDOLPH v. WOOD.
Decision Date11 December 1886
7 A. 286
49 N.J.L. 85


Supreme Court of New Jersey.

December 11, 1886.

Information in the nature of quo warranto to try right of respondent to the office of member of the common council of the city of Burlington.

Mark Sooy, for relator.

Alfred Flanders, for respondent.

7 A. 287

KNAPP, J. This information, by leave granted to the relator, was filed for the purpose of trying the right of the respondent to hold and exercise the office of member of the common council of the city of Burlington. Like proceedings were instituted against Joseph R. Ivins, J. Frank Budd, Decatur Abdell, and Samuel E. Lippincott, challenging the title of each to a similar office in that city. The several informations were prosecuted upon the same grounds, and each of the respondents pleaded the same matters in vindication of their questioned right. The pleas were demurred to, and the questions presented in the briefs of counsel are upon the constitutionality of two legislative acts set out in the schedule of title presented in respondent's pleas.

The firstmentioned act was passed March 4, 1878, entitled "A further act concerning cities." It enacted that "the common council of any city of less than ten thousand inhabitants, and divided into not less than two nor more than three wards, which may now by law consist of twelve members, shall hereafter consist of thirteen members, who shall be elected, an equal number from each ward, and one member at large for such city, at the next annual city election therein held after the passage of this act. The member at large shall be an elector and resident of said city, and shall hold his office for the term of two years, and at the expiration thereof, and every two years thereafter, a member at large shall be so elected. The members so elected from each ward shall be electors and residents of their respective wards, and shall, at the first meeting of said common council after their election, divide themselves into two classes by lot; the first class to hold the office for the term of one year, and the second class for the term of two years."

The second was an act entitled "An act concerning cities of the third class," approved February 20, 1883, which provided as follows: "(1) That in cities of the third class the terms of office of members of the common council, or other legislative body, shall be for as many years as there are council-men or members of such legislative body from each ward, and that, at each annual municipal election after the next succeeding election, one member of the common council or other legislative body shall be elected from each ward; (2) that at the next succeeding municipal election the members of the common council or other legislative body shall be elected as heretofore, and, at the second meeting of such common council then elected, the members from each ward shall by lot divide themselves into classes, so that the term of office of one member from each ward shall expire in each succeeding year.

The respondents claim to have been regularly elected at a charter election in 1882, and that, while in office by such election, their several terms were extended by the legislation of 1883.

Since the adoption of the amendments to our state constitution in 1875, legislation regulating the internal affairs of towns and counties, under the requirements of article 4, § 7, par. 11, of the constitution, must be by general laws; private, local, or special laws for municipal government no longer being within legislative discretion.

The cases in our books in exposition of the constitutional design touching this particular subject have become numerous; and it would seem at this day unnecessary to do more than cite the more important of them. Van Riper v. Parsons, 40 N. J. Law, 125; State v. Hammer, 42 K. J. Law, 435; Anderson v. Trenton, Id. 486; Zeigler v. Gaddis, 44 N. J. Law, 363; Skinner v. Collector, etc., 42 N. J. Law, 407; Coutieri v. New Bruniwick, 44 N. J. Law, 58.

Disclaiming all intent to further define what is a general law, it will serve the present purpose to say that, under these adjudications, a law is to be regarded as general when its provisions apply to all objects of legislation distinguished alike by qualities and attributes which necessitate the legislation, or to which the enactment has manifest relation. Such law must embrace all, and exclude none, whose condition and wants render such legislation equally necessary or appropriate to them as a class.

7 A. 288

The act of 1878, gauged by the rules which have heretofore been adopted by our courts as the proper basis of classification, seems to me to have Chooen characteristics and incidents, as marking a distinct class, of too special, restrictive, and unimportant a character to give to the enactment the quality of a general law. The law had several purposes. These were to give to the corporations which it provided for, a councilman, to be elected at large in the city; an election of an equal number of the other councilmen in each of the wards; a division of the members elected in each ward in two classes,—one to hold for one year, and the other for two years; and thereafter an election of each member for a term of two years. But the law was applicable only...

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  • Atty. Gen. v. Hendrickson
    • United States
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    • June 22, 1944
    ...38 A. 499, 450, 64 Am.St.Rep. 600; In re Application of Prudential Insurance Co. of America, 132 N.J.Eq. 170, 28 A.2d 120; Randolph v. Wood, 49 N.J.L. 85, 7 A. 286; State v. Borough of Clayton, 53 N.J.L. 277, 21 A. 1026; Quigley v. Lehigh Valley R. R. Co., 80 N.J.L. 486, 79 A. 458. The ques......
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  • Low v. Rees Printing Company
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