[62 NJSuper Page 136] This opinion deals with that part of this suit which is in lieu of the prerogative writ of mandamus. The plaintiffs are seeking a judgment of this court in lieu of mandamus which, in general, will peremptorily command and strictly enjoin the Bergen County Board of Taxation to equalize the assessed value of all taxable real and personal property of Bergen County so that each taxing district of Bergen County shall bear its full, equal and just share of the Bergen County taxes; and to further order the Bergen County Board of Taxation to do everything required or permitted by law which may be necessary to secure the taxation of all taxable property in Bergen County at its true value in order that all taxable property in Bergen County shall bear its full, equal and just share of taxes. Some of the principal features of this troublesome problem were discussed in the opinion filed in this cause on April 12, 1960. Village of Ridgefield Park v. Bergen Cty. Bd. of Taxation , 61 N.J. Super. 170 (Law
Div. 1960). In that opinion, attention was directed to the fact that it had been incontestably established by the evidence that the Bergen County Board of Taxation made no effort whatever to equalize the personal property assessments; and that, as a result, the Bergen County taxes had not been fairly and justly apportioned among the taxing districts of Bergen County. By reason of this failure to equalize the personal property assessments, some taxing districts have been paying much less than their full and just share of the county taxes, while other districts have been paying considerably more than their full and just share. The plaintiffs seek to effectuate an improvement of this inequitable condition by an order of this court.
The 1875 amendment to the 1844 Constitution of New Jersey required that property shall be assessed for taxation by uniform rules. The Constitution of 1947 also specifically requires that:
"Property shall be assessed for taxation under general laws and by uniform rules." Art. VIII, sec. I, par. 1.
The Constitution of New Jersey is the source of all power and authority in the government of this State. The constitutional provision that property "shall" be assessed for taxation by "uniform rules" is a solemn mandate of the sovereign people of New Jersey themselves which is directed to all branches and divisions of our State Government. The New Jersey Constitution itself requires every state officer, before entering upon the duties of his office, to take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution and to perform the duties of his office faithfully, Art. VII, sec. I, par. 1. The word "shall," as used in this section of the Constitution, means "must." In the case of the Application of George C. Braden , 105 Ohio App. 285, 148 N.E. 2 d 83 (Ct. App. 1957), appeal dismissed 167 Ohio St. 548, 150 N.E. 2 d 294 (Sup. Ct. 1958) it was held that the word "shall" in the Constitution of Ohio means "must." And in the case of State ex rel. Gouge v. Burrow , 119 Tenn. 376, 104 S.W.
526 (Sup. Ct. 1907), the court held that the word "shall" in the Constitution of Tennessee is equivalent to "must." The opinion in the Tennessee Supreme Court also said:
"The provisions of these solemn instruments [constitutions] are not advisory, or mere suggestions of what would be fit and proper, but commands which must be obeyed. * * * The supremacy and permanency of republics depend upon the maintenance of the fundamental law, in its integrity, as written in Constitutions adopted by the people; and it is the solemn duty of all those temporarily vested with power, in all departments of the state, to do this. The necessities of a particular case will not justify a departure from the organic law. It is by such insidious process and gradual encroachment that constitutional limitations and government by the people are weakened and eventually destroyed. It has been well said:
'One step taken by the Legislature or judiciary in enlarging the powers of government opens the door for another, which will be sure to follow, and so the process goes on until all respect for the fundamental law is lost, and the powers of government are just what those in authority please to make or call them.'
Oakley v. Aspinwall , 3 N.Y. 547, 568."
See, also, the case of Jones v. Freeman , 193 Okla. 554, 146 P. 2 d 564 (Sup. Ct. 1943).
In 11 Am. Jur., sec. 69, p. 686, this constitutional principle is stated as follows:
"It is the general rule to regard constitutional provisions as mandatory, and not to leave any discretion to the will of a legislature to obey or to disregard them. * * * The use of the word "shall" is generally considered as an indication of the mandatory character of the provision."
In the case of Carow v. Board of Education of City of New York , 272 N.Y. 341, 6 N.E. 2 d 47 (Ct. App. 1936), the court held that the Legislature was under a duty to provide the machinery required to carry out the mandate of the constitution of the state. In 16 C.J.S. Constitutional Law § 65, p. 178, appears the following statement:
"Mandatory provisions of a constitution are binding on the legislature, and it is under obligation to perform duties imposed ...