NewYorkUniversity
LawReview

Issues

Author

The Honorable Ellen A. Peters

Results

Capacity and Respect: A Perspective on the Historic Role of the State Courts in the Federal System

The Honorable Ellen A. Peters

William J. Brennan, Jr. Lecture

Twenty years ago, Justice William J. Brennan sounded a clarion call to lawyers and judges not to overlook the capacity of state law, especially state constitutional law, to assist in the pursuit of justice for all. Today, the judges and justices of state courts have taken that message to heart by undertaking innovative measures to protect individual rights through state constitutions and through independent interpretations of the Federal Constitution. Despite this emerging trend, litigators, law reviews, and legal scholars have continued to focus on the federal system. In this Brennan Lecture, Senior Judge Ellen A. Peters of the Supreme Court of Connecticut responds to this not-so-benign neglect, observing that state courts determine the totality of rights of the vast majority of litigants, draw on a broad reservoir of common law principles and remedies, and play an integral role in maintaining our federalist system. Developing this last point, Judge Peters examines tie history of state courts in the federal system the extent to which state courts may invoke neutral procedural and jurisdictional rules in the face of arguably different federal mandates, and the implications for the role of the states of recent developments in United States Supreme Court jurisprudence.