State Constitutional Law in the New Deal Period
20 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2015
Date Written: April 13, 2015
The 1930s is generally understood to be a period of constitutional revolution in the United States, with a restrictive conservative U.S. Supreme Court giving way to a latitudinarian liberal Court. The politics of judicial review and the substance of constitutional law in the states has rarely been considered. This article begins to integrate the states into the broader story of American constitutional development in these pivotal years. Focusing on a sample of four state courts between 1925 and 1945, this article argues that the U.S. Supreme Court and the struggle over federal constitutional law may have been more idiosyncratic and exceptional than typical of the constitutional politics of the period. Judicial review in the state courts and the elaboration of state-level constitutional law are characterized by continuity rather than transformation during this period. State courts were able to routinely use the power of judicial review to invalidate legislation across this time period, but they rarely found themselves obstructing the core policies being advanced by the other parts of the state governments.
Keywords: judicial review, states, constitutional law, constitutional development, New Deal
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