The Constitution of the Commonwealth has never been more significant for the rights of individuals than in the past thirty years. Although the greater impact has been on the rights of criminal defendants, the Constitution’s influence on civil relationships has been substantial, as indicated most particularly by Goodridge v. Department of Public Health on the right to same-sex marriage.
In 1980, this law review published my article comparing the treatment of similar provisions of the Federal Constitution and the State Constitution. My current effort is, in a sense, an updating of the 1980 article. Before 1980, there were only a handful of cases that foretold the impending impact of the Supreme Judicial Court’s independent treatment of provisions in the State Constitution that had parallels in the Federal Constitution. For example, Commonwealth v. Soares barred racial discrimination in the use of peremptory challenges to prospective jurors well before the Supreme Court did so in Batson v. Kentucky. . .
For more information about Chief Justice Wilkins’s Donahue Lecture (which served as the basis for this article) as well as photos and audio from the event, please click here.