Positive Constitutional Rights in the Late Twentieth Century
This chapter examines the campaigns for constitutional rights to environmental protection. In the 1960s and 1970s, when Congress was passing landmark environmental regulations and an entire executive agency had been developed to address the subject, environmental activists continued to lobby for the insertion of positive rights to environmental protection into their state constitutions. As a result, state constitutions came to include broad rights to environmental health and protection. The chapter first provides an overview of environmental activism during the 1960s and 1970s before explaining why environmental activists targeted state constitutions despite so much environmental action at the national level. It argues that environmentalists did not choose to pursue constitutional rights to environmental protection only at the federal level. Instead, states' constitutional conventions, environmental organizations, and even legislatures continued to alter state constitutions by adding mandates for protective and interventionist government.
Keywords: constitutional rights, environmental protection, environmental activists, positive rights, state constitutions, environmental health, environmental activism, constitutional conventions, environmental organizations
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