State constitutions are significant sources of a broad range of rights, and recent developments on the federal level have contributed to their prominence. The aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision provides one clear example — with no federally protected right to abortion, state constitutions have taken on new importance.
In the modern era, state courts and state constitutions have often taken a back seat to their federal counterparts, but there is also a long history of state constitutions as sites of innovation and expansion. As documented by Jeffrey S. Sutton, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in the first 150 years of U.S. history, most constitutional rights litigation took place in the states. In the modern era, state constitutional developments have cut across issue areas and ideological lines — from curbing partisan gerrymandering to protecting property rights.
What’s been missing is a place to analyze and contextualize these developments. Enter State Court Report. This hub covers legal trends in state constitutional law, along with cutting-edge scholarship, interpretative methods, and cases to watch. Over time, it will feature analysis and commentary from judges, academics, journalists, and practitioners who bring an array of experiences and viewpoints.
Together, we hope to foster dialogue, commentary, and research about an important but chronically underappreciated area of law.
As the Brennan Center’s namesake, Justice William J. Brennan Jr., wrote, “State courts no less than federal are and ought to be the guardians of our liberties.”