This article was adapted from the author’s remarks delivered on March 24, 2017 at The New York State Constitution, a symposium of Pace Law Review, held at Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.


The purpose of this essay is not to weigh in the wisdom or utility in revising New York’s Constitution. However, in my opinion, one of the most compelling reasons to amend New York’s Constitution is the need to incorporate into the fundamental charter a meaningful code of ethics, including procedures for its enforcement, and sanctions for violations. New York over the past fifteen years has experienced more scandals, criminal prosecutions, and convictions of lawmakers and other government officials for corruption than any state in the nation. It is certainly arguable that the extent of New York’s corruption, and the widespread cynicism and distrust of the New York government, may be attributable to the state’s inability to enact meaningful and enforceable ethics laws. The public perception appears to be that New York’s government is not working for them and that some officials subordinate the good of the state to their own personal gain. It is this crisis in government ethics that to me offers one of the strongest arguments for amending the constitution to bring about meaningful ethics reforms.