State Constitutional Law Seminar
About this Course
This seminar will explore the impact of state constitutional law on individual rights, constitutional interpretation, and significant issues of public policy. Is the "new judicial federalism" (i.e., the renewed reliance by state courts on state constitutions as independent sources of constitutional rights) a principled jurisprudence or merely result-oriented interpretation to circumvent decisions of the United States Supreme Court? Are "state constitutional rights" code words for regressive state constitutional decisions (e.g., like those upholding state segreation laws), or do they signify emerging progressive state constitutional doctrine (e.g., identification of constitutional predicates for marriage claims by same-sex couples)? Will the process and politics of "popular constitutionalism" (i.e., voter amendment of state constitutions) advance or impair claims for sexual equality and reproductive freedom? Cases for discussion will include opinions of state supreme courts analyzing state constitutional issues in a variety of areas, including criminal law, education, and same-sex marriage. Readings will examine the development of state constitutional law, competing theories of state constitutional law interpretation, and the relationship of politics and the amendment process to state constitutionalism.