Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Judge Jeffrey Sutton’s ‘51 Imperfect Solutions’

Thanks to the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, I had the pleasure of taking part yesterday in a discussion with Judge Jeffrey Sutton of his excellent new book 51 Imperfect Solutions: States and the Making of American Constitutional Law. Video of the event is available here.

As Judge Sutton puts it, the “central conviction” of 51 Imperfect Solutions is that “an underappreciation of state constitutional law has hurt state and federal law and has undermined the appropriate balance between state and federal courts in protecting individual liberty.” Sutton deftly presents stories about four legal issues—school funding, the exclusionary rule, compelled sterilization, and flag salutes—that illustrate the ability of state courts to have an important positive influence on the interpretation of state and federal constitutional guarantees. He also offers his own recommendations for how that influence can increase.

Rather than summarize the book further, I will refer readers to the very favorable reviews of the book by Judge William Pryor on NRO and by Adam White in the Weekly Standard as well as to this twopart interview with Judge Sutton on the Volokh Conspiracy.


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