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Looking for Rights in All the Wrong PlacesWhy State Constitutions Contain America's Positive Rights$
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Emily Zackin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691155777

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691155777.001.0001

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Of Ski Trails and State Constitutions

Of Ski Trails and State Constitutions

Silly Details or Serious Principles?

(p.18) Chapter 2 Of Ski Trails and State Constitutions
Looking for Rights in All the Wrong Places

Emily Zackin

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines why state constitutions have been so widely criticized and consistently excluded from descriptions of America's constitutional tradition. It seems that the people who wrote the state constitutions failed to grasp the purpose and the nature of constitutional law. Their recognizable features are surrounded, even engulfed, by hundreds of mundane administrative details. Indeed, many state constitutions contain provisions about policy choices as detailed as the construction of ski trails. In order to recognize the principled nature of state constitutionalism, the chapter analyzes the ubiquitous assumptions about “higher lawmaking” and states' idiosyncrasies that have animated its critics. It explores whether we should really revise our conception of American constitutional rights based solely on the state constitutions' (highly detailed) contents. It argues that the criticisms leveled against state constitutions are misplaced and demonstrates that they are actually constitutional.

Keywords:   state constitutions, constitutional law, ski trails, constitutional rights, state constitutionalism, higher lawmaking

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