Over two decades have passed since Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. called for state courts to interpret their state constitutions independent of federal constitutional jurisprudence.(1) For some, Justice Brennan's message signaled the rebirth of state constitutional law and was the genesis of what has become known as the new judicial federalism. In the years since Justice Brennan's call, the number of decisions resting on state constitutional grounds has proliferated, as has the commentary the subject receives. Despite the relative enthusiasm with which many state courts have developed the jurisprudence of their respective constitutions, the growth of state constitutional law has not proceeded without criticism. Generally speaking, the new judicial federalism has been well received, but significant issues have arisen with respect to the appropriate scope and methodology of state constitutional decisionmaking. The new judicial federalism is no longer new, and state courts are now beginning to grapple with some of the more difficult questions presented by maturing state constitutional jurisprudence.
Albany Law Review deserves credit for providing this forum for jurists and scholars to present and examine some of the numerous and complex issues surrounding state constitutional law. In the PERSPECTIVES section of this issue, jurists reflect on the continuing evolution of the state constitutional law in their respective jurisdictions. The contributions highlight the diversity of issues facing state courts when interpreting their constitutions and confront both successes and failures in state constitutionalism.
Chief Justice Franchini of the New Mexico Supreme Court examines that court's solution to the question confronting every state court when interpreting its constitution: the proper role of federal constitutional jurisprudence within a state's constitutional decisionmaking. The Article discusses the New Mexico Supreme Court's decision in State v. Gomez,(2) which articulates an analytical method for the "interstitial" approach to state constitutional interpretation. Gomez signaled New Mexico's formal abandonment of the traditional lockstep approach and the court's commitment to an independent state constitutional jurisprudence.
Justice Heiple of the Illinois Supreme Court and Kraig Powell, his clerk, address the core question of the inherent legitimacy of independent state constitutional interpretation. Beginning from the premise that the...