Decision 1997

Constitutional Change in New York

Edited by Gerald Benjamin & Henrik N. Dullea

Subjects: New York State Government
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9780914341505, 534 pages, March 1997

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Table of contents

Richard P. Nathan


Peter Goldmark

Decision 1997
Gerald Benjamin

Section I. Why State Constitutions Matter

State Constitutions in the Federal System
Richard Briffault

Principal Provisions of State Constitutions: A Brief Overview
Robert F. Williams

The Role of the Constitutional Commission in State Constitutional Change
Robert F. Williams

Section II. Constitutional Structure and the Process of Government

Structures of New York State Government
Gerald Benjamin

State Government Finance
Robert P. Kerker

Legislative Districting and the New York State Constitution
David I. Wells

New York State's Judicial Article: A Work in Progress
Frederick Miller

The Private Economy
Joseph F. Zimmerman

Intergovernmental Relations
Richard Briffault

Local Government and the State Constitution: A Framework for Analysis
Richard Briffault

Elections for the Political Process
Jeffrey M. Stonecash

Reforming New York's Constitutional System of Election Administration
Gerald Benjamin

Section III. Individual Liberties and "Positive Rights"

Individual Liberties
Burton C. Agata

Criminal Justice
Burton C. Agata

Robert D. Stone

Social Policy
Gerald Benjamin and Melissa Cusa

The Environment
William R. Gisberg

Section IV. Amendment and Revision Process: Experience and Issues

Amending and Revising the New York State Constitution
Burton C. Agata

A Pandora's Box? Holding a Constitutional Convention in New York
Peter J. Galie

Constitutional Revision in 1967: Learning the Right Lessons From the Magnificant Failure
Henrik N. Dullea

The 1967 Constitutional Convention Delegates
Prepared by Michael Leo Owens

Amending the New York State Constitution Through the Legislature
Gerald Benjamin and Melissa Cusa

Section V. The Delegate Selection Process

The Delegate Selection Process
Interim Report of the Temporary State Commission on Constitutional Revision

Delegate Selection and the Problem of Ballot Acess
Burton C. Agata

The Voting Rights Act and the Election of Delegates to a Constitutional Convention
Richard Briffault

The Election of Delegates to the Constitutional Convention: Some Alternatives
Richard Briffault

Public Campaign Financing
Michael J. Malbin


Temporary State Commission on Constitutional Revision


Commission Members
Commission Biographies
Commission Staff


Author Biographies


Discusses why state constitutions matter, the structures and processes of governments, and the rights of citizens.


Few citizens know much about the constitution of their state. Some don't even know there is one. Yet state constitutions are basic instruments of our democracy. They structure state and local government and stipulate the rights of citizenship.

In New York State, as in others, the Constitution mandates a periodic vote on whether the state Constitution should be revised. In New York, a mandatory ballot question is put before the voters every twenty years—"Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?"

Seven months prior to the next such vote—which will be held on Election Day, November 4, 1997—the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government is publishing companion books on the New York State Constitution—one a sourcebook on constitutional change in New York, the other a rich history of the last constitutional convention held in New York State, that in 1967.

The editors of this sourcebook on Decision 1997 are Gerald Benjamin, Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Political Science at the State University at New Paltz, and Henrik N. Dullea, Vice-president for University Relations at Cornell University. The material presented grew out of the work of the Temporary Commission on Constitutional Revision created in 1993 and chaired by Peter G. Goldmark Jr.


Former New York State Governor, Malcolm Wilson, to whom this book is dedicated and who served as a member of the Commission, said of this compendium, "This volume deserves to have a long shelf life even after the people exercise their duty to vote on this issue in 1997. These papers constitute a valuable resource on our great governmental heritage. "