Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick writes of the unsung role of state constitutions in promoting freedom, protecting individual rights, and defending against overreaching government.
State constitutions have been used to strike down racial preferences in state hiring, prevent the use of state funds to implement unconstitutional federal programs, restrict occupational licensing requirements, lift the burden on the right to earn a living, and expand free speech rights. Also, notably, state constitutions are used to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s atrocious Kelo decision which, through judicial alchemy, puffed up eminent domain. Finally, unlike the U.S. Constitution, most state constitutions recognize taxpayer standing, allowing ordinary citizens to challenge state spending in court.
In interpreting their own constitutions, state courts are not bound by U.S. Supreme Court rulings or Anthony Kennedy’s musings on corresponding provisions in the U.S. Constitution. State constitutions can protect individual rights to a higher degree than the U.S. Constitution and, for this reason, liberty activists should not overlook them when mapping out issue campaigns.
State Constitutions: Freedom’s Frontier
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