Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Professor Shanna Rose

Reader 2

Professor Ken Miller

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2024 Caroline G Bullock


This thesis situates state constitutionalism in the modern context of federal constitutional paralysis. By tracing patterns of state constitutional development, we find that states were always the fundamental setting of democracy, and there has always been critical action happening at state legislatures, in state courts, and through state constitutional change. State constitutions provide an active means to achieve progress and protect rights not federally enshrined (and thus, endangered by the political process). The use of state constitutions to prescribe ways of life, protect individual and specialized rights, and to limit local governments has always occurred, but with the current federal context, state constitutions are now more important than ever. The importance of state constitutions cannot go understated, they are the most democratic vehicles available to American citizens, with the amendment process readily accessible to citizens of seventeen states through a constitutional ballot-initiative. State constitutions, therefore, serve as bulwarks of democracy, offering citizens a direct and accessible means of shaping their governance structures and protecting their rights. State constitutionalism is not a passing trend, this thesis serves to show that state constitutions were always vital to the functioning of American democracy. But given that democratic norms have unraveled and trust in institutions have collapsed at the federal level, state constitutions are the key to making progress and shoring up norms.