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State Constitutional Law

State constitutions provided the building blocks for the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Many of the framers of the federal constitution believed state constitutions to be the principal guardians of individual rights and freedoms. Accordingly, they mandated a balance of power between the states and the federal government. State constitutions may protect rights that are not protected by the federal constitution and, subject to the federal constitution's Supremacy Clause, may provide greater protection for rights and liberties that are also protected by the federal constitution. The highest court of each state has the final prerogative to interpret the provisions of its state constitution. This course will address the importance of framing constitutional arguments using both the federal and state constitutions and the expansion of federally guaranteed liberties based on differences in textual language, legislative history, pre-existing state law, and legal traditions of the various states and their constitutions. Enrollment limited.