Hidden Laws

How State Constitutions Stabilize American Politics

Robinson Woodward-Burns

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How state constitutional reform guides and stabilizes American constitutional and political development

State constitution reform guides and stabilizes American constitutional and political development. Using data sets and historical case studies, Robinson Woodward-Burns shows how the federal government has repeatedly deferred to state constitutional reform to manage or address difficult national constitutional controversies, including conflicts over the regulation of slavery, banking and taxation, women’s suffrage, labor and welfare rights, voting and civil rights, and gender discrimination.

Robinson Woodward-Burns is an assistant professor of political science at Howard University. He lives in Washington, DC.

“Hidden Laws offers a systematic and richly documented analysis of the relationship between federal and state constitutional development and makes a compelling case that the U.S. Constitution’s stability is attributable in part to the brisk pace of state constitutional change.”-- John Dinan, author of State Constitutional Politics  
 

“On the basis of exhaustive research into state politics, Robinson Woodward-Burns makes a compelling case that the celebrated stability of the U.S. Constitution rests in part on how the states have dealt with constitutional issues. An original and deeply illuminating analysis of the dynamics of America’s emphatically federal constitutionalism.”--Rogers Smith, University of Pennsylvania
 

"Woodward-Burns does a masterful job detailing how the American constitutional order often foists constitutional change onto states, with the result that pressure for constitutional change at the national level often dissipates. This is the rare vital work in both federal and state constitutional development that should command a wide scholarly audience."--Mark A. Graber, author of
A New Introduction to American Constitutionalism
 

Hidden Laws is a truly important book that reminds us that the American constitutional order comprises far more than the singular United States Constitution and the national government. Robinson Woodward-Burns writes that 'almost all modern constitutional reform occurs at the state level.' This illuminating insight deserves serious discussion by anyone interested in the future of American democracy.”--Sanford Levinson, author of Framed: America’s 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance
 
ISBN: 9780300248692
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
368 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
8 b/w illus.