Codey ‘didn’t care about the constitution’ when COVID hit


A comment made by a state senator on the verge of not caring “what the Constitution says” sparked a backlash largely as partisan as Thursday’s Senate vote to confirm the state’s attorney general.

Sen. Dick Codey, D-Essex, was responding Thursday to a Republican lawmaker bringing up Gov. Phil Murphy dismissing a Bill of Rights question as “above my pay” in 2020 at the height of the pandemic and pushing back about severe restrictions imposed by executive orders.

Sen. Michael Doherty, R-Warren, had just completed his own remarks in the Senate, criticizing the actions of Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin.

“I understand that every executive order that Governor Murphy issued during the coronavirus shutdown was also signed by Mr. Platkin.

And, I was alarmed when I saw Governor Murphy appear on national television and a reporter asked him – well, you issue many executive orders that many believe flout the Constitution and did you think maybe- be that you don’t have the power to do so, under the Constitution?

And the governor replied, “I don’t think about these issues, it’s above my pay grade.” ”

“It’s very cavalier that the Constitution was ignored,” Doherty continued. “Many, if not most of my constituents felt they had been abused by these orders.”

Senator Doherty on Platkin, Murphy, Constitution (NJ Legislature Archives)

Senator Doherty on Platkin, Murphy, Constitution (NJ Legislature Archives)

“So Mr. Platkin was sitting here, signing these documents, advising Governor Murphy as he trampled on the New Jersey Constitution and the Federal Constitution as well,” the Warren County legislator said.

After Doherty, who grew up in Glen Ridge, finished speaking, Codey began by addressing him directly.

“To my colleague, Senator Dougherty – a former young man from Essex County – when the coronavirus hit, I didn’t care what the Constitution said. I wanted us to be safe, I wanted to defeat the virus. »

“We needed leadership; leadership that had worked 24/7, we all know that … and according to everyone I spoke to, they did a damn good job,” Codey said.

“Nobody, no governor has ever been touched by anything like this in the history of this state – and now we’re going to criticize? And, how does that play on Mr. Platkin because he was an adviser to the governor? I don’t. I don’t understand,” added Codey, who served as governor after Governor Jim McGreevey resigned from November 2004 to January 2006.

He said of the Attorney General’s office: “I want someone who is independent, who does the right thing, who isn’t afraid to take on the bad guys” – adding “let’s give this young man the opportunity to do what is right”.

In August, Doherty had already voted against advancing the nomination after questioning Platkin on a series of questions, including his age and his beliefs in a “Creator of the Universe, as reported by

Senate confirms new attorney general months after appointment

On Thursday, the state Senate confirmed Platkin in a 24-10 vote, making his role permanent, which it called “the honor of a lifetime.”

“Since my appointment, I have worked closely with the incredible officials of the Department of Law and Public Safety, the dedicated women and men of law enforcement, and our community stakeholders to advance the cause of justice and protect the people of New Jersey,” Platkin said. in a written statement.

“I pledge to continue to work tirelessly to end the scourge of gun violence, to build trust between law enforcement and the general public, and to protect the rights of our residents. I would like to thank a Governor Murphy once again for his confidence and support in appointing me to serve the people of this great state as Attorney General of New Jersey.”

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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