The Spirit of Our Times: State Constitutions and International Human Rights

52 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2006

See all articles by Martha F. Davis

Martha F. Davis

Northeastern University - School of Law


States have a direct responsibility to implement the U.S.'s international obligations in many areas governed by existing human rights treaties. This responsibility is drawn from the nature of federalism, the U.S. Constitution and from states' own constitutions. In light of the relatively populist structure of state governmental institutions, this implementation may be appropriately accomplished by state courts as well as the political branches of state governments. International law has a particularly important role to play in this process, particularly when courts construe states' affirmative constitutional grants - for example, for public health, education or welfare - that have no federal analogs. A case study of Article XVII, s. 3 of the New York State Constitution, which mandates that the state legislature provide for the public health, illustrates the concrete ways in which international law should inform state courts' constitutional decision-making.

Suggested Citation

Davis, Martha F., The Spirit of Our Times: State Constitutions and International Human Rights. New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 30, p. 359, April 2006, Available at SSRN:

Martha F. Davis (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics