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Utah's Constitution: Distinctively Undistinctive

THE CONSTITUTIONALISM OF AMERICAN STATES, George E. Connor, Christopher W. Hammons, eds., University of Missouri Press, 2006

21 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2006  

Daniel J.H. Greenwood

Hofstra University College of Law

Kathy Wyer

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Christine Durham

Utah Supreme Court

Abstract

This collection explores the proposition that state constitutions reflect distinctive state peoples. In the American system, state governments have no ability to control who their citizens are and, given the constraints of the First Amendment, very little ability to control the cultural production that typically defines peoples. Utah, however, continues to have a distinctive population, with a majority of its population belonging to a single church that understands itself in quasi-national terms as having a distinctive history and culture. Strikingly, however, the distinctive Utah history generated a quite normal state constitution, different only in unusually strong language protecting religious liberty (and simultaneously banning the most controversial local religious practice, polygamy) and its early protection of women's rights. The language of the original Utah constitution was largely borrowed from contemporary state constitutions and subsequent changes have reflected largely national rather than particularistically local concerns. To find the distinctive Utah heritage in the Utah constitution, one must listen to the silences rather than parse the written words.

Keywords: state constitutional law, religious liberty, polygamy, marriage, ERA

Suggested Citation

Greenwood, Daniel J.H. and Wyer, Kathy and Durham, Christine, Utah's Constitution: Distinctively Undistinctive. THE CONSTITUTIONALISM OF AMERICAN STATES, George E. Connor, Christopher W. Hammons, eds., University of Missouri Press, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=893461

Daniel J.H. Greenwood (Contact Author)

Hofstra University College of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States
516-463-7013 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.hofstra.edu/greenwood

Kathy Wyer

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Christine Durham

Utah Supreme Court ( email )

450 South State Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
United States

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