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State Constitutions and the Protection of Individual Rights

William J. Brennan, Jr.
Harvard Law Review
Vol. 90, No. 3 (Jan., 1977), pp. 489-504
DOI: 10.2307/1340334
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1340334
Page Count: 16
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State Constitutions and the Protection of Individual Rights
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Abstract

During the 1960's, as the Supreme Court expanded the measure of federal protection for individual rights, there was little need for litigants to rest their claims, or judges their decisions, on state constitutional grounds. In this Article, Mr. Justice Brennan argues that the trend of recent Supreme Court civil liberties decisions should prompt a reappraisal of that strategy. He particularly notes the numerous state courts which have already extended to their citizens, via state constitutions, greater protections than the Supreme Court has held are applicable under the federal Bill of Rights. Finally, he discusses, and applauds, the implications of this new state court activism for the structure of American federalism.

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