The Spirit of Our Times: State Constitutions and International Human Rights
Martha F. Davis
Northeastern University - School of Law
New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 30, p. 359, April 2006
Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 02-2006
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 52
Date posted: June 13, 2006