February 3, 2022
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
One of the most important responsibilities of any Governor is choosing an individual to serve as New Jersey’s Attorney General.
To be sure, the Attorney General is not the Governor’s Lawyer but the People’s Lawyer -- an attorney entrusted to represent all New Jerseyans, our values, and our laws.
During my first term, we were fortunate to be served in this capacity by Attorneys General Gurbir Grewal and Andrew Bruck.
They stood firm for our values – particularly when the former federal administration sought to undermine them.
They worked to get illegal guns off our streets and defended our groundbreaking gun-safety laws in court. They launched new policing practices to improve the relationships between law enforcement and the residents they serve. They took action to protect our immigrant communities. They took on polluters. They stood up for consumers. And so much more.
I thank them both. They each have set tremendous legacies within the Office of the Attorney General.
As I look toward the upcoming four years, and the challenges that lay ahead, I will once again look to the Attorney General to stand up for our New Jersey values and to keep the office, and our state, moving forward.
To meet this challenge, it is my honor and pleasure to nominate Matt Platkin to serve as the 62nd Attorney General of the State of New Jersey.
Matt grew up in Florham Park and Morristown and graduated from Madison High School.
He currently resides in Montclair with his wife, Sophia, and their son, Robert, who are with us. We’re also joined today by Matt’s parents, Judy and Larry.
Matt holds both his undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford University, but I don’t hold his having absconded to the other coast against him. Importantly, he came back to New Jersey to engage in public service and give back to the state that gave him so much.
I have known Matt, personally and professionally, for the last eight years. I have seen his intellect, his work ethic, his commitment to good governance, and his ethical sense of right and wrong.
As my first Chief Counsel, he was my primary advisor on all of our administration’s legal matters, and spearheaded many of our policy initiatives, including gun safety, voting rights, and the rights of those left at society’s margins.
But I particularly think of the earliest days of the pandemic, as he ably led the Counsel’s Office in helping us confront the greatest public health crisis not only of this current century but the last 100 years.
Every Attorney General needs strong legal skills, which Matt has in spades and has proven in his time as Chief Counsel, in private practice, and in the pro bono work he has undertaken.
But every Attorney General also needs to lead with empathy. And Matt has that, too. That trait is written throughout many of the laws he helped craft and see passed as Chief Counsel.
Under our state’s Constitution, unlike most of the Cabinet, the Attorney General is given a layer of independence. As I noted earlier, the Attorney General isn’t the Governor’s Lawyer, but the People’s Lawyer, entrusted with enforcing the laws of our State fairly and evenhandedly.
This independence is most crucial in matters which are criminal in nature and must, because of that, be absolutely free of politics. I know Matt has the backbone and the fortitude to uphold this sacred principle.
As I noted in my Second Inaugural Address, just because one term ends and another begins doesn’t mean that the old challenges fade away. The same can be said for the Attorney General.
I know Matt will continue the Attorney General’s Office’s strong record of taking on polluters, fraudsters, and other criminals.
But looking outward, our nation continues to stand at a crossroads …
When it comes to fundamental questions about policing and our criminal justice system …
When the right of states to enact and enforce commonsense gun safety laws is under attack …
When voting rights are being restricted across the country …
And when the very sense of the American Dream itself seems to be falling from the grasp of so many.
In these issues, and many more, New Jersey will show the way forward. Not just through smart policies and strong laws, but an equally smart and strong defense of both. In this the Office of the Attorney General will stand tall.
I think of the words of Robert F. Kennedy, who addressed the law school at the University of Georgia in his first formal speech after becoming United States Attorney General in 1961.
Although we are now more than 60 years removed, his words still prove salient.
And I quote him: “For on this generation of Americans falls the full burden of proving to the world that we really mean it when we say that all men are created free and equal before the law. All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”
We have made historic strides in making New Jersey the Opportunity State in so many areas across the past four years. And there is still much more to do.
With Matt serving as our Attorney General, I know that New Jersey’s storied laws, which have opened doors of opportunity and knocked down barriers of injustice for so many, will be in good hands.
It is now my tremendous pleasure to present the next Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, Matt Platkin.