Some Thoughts on the Interpretation of Arizona Constitutional Rights
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
Arizona State Law Journal, Vol. 35, p. 295, 2003
The individual rights provisions of the Arizona Constitution were drafted in 1910 by the members of the Arizona Constitutional Convention and ratified by the people of Arizona in 1911. At that time, the Constitution of the United States offered Arizonans little protection against violations of basic individual rights that might be committed by state or local governments or government officials. Except for the right not to have one's property taken for public use without just compensation, the provisions of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights had not yet been "incorporated" into the Fourteenth Amendment and were therefore not available to provide protection against invasions of basic rights by state and local legislatures, executives, police, and other officials. The Declaration of Rights contained in Article 2 of Arizona's Constitution, therefore, was clearly meant -- both by its authors and by the Arizona voters who adopted it--to have important legal significance.
This article discusses the approach that courts should adopt when they interpret the individual rights provisions of the Arizona Constitution. The courts interpreting the Arizona Constitution's individual rights provisions should develop a coherent body of state constitutional law, independent from federal interpretation of U.S. Constitutional rights, even when the language of the Arizona provision is substantially identical to the federal provision.
Keywords: state law, constitutional law, individual rights
Date posted: June 24, 2009
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