Only one state has interpreted its contract clause differently than the federal counterpart — representing a failure on the part of advocates and judges who believe in state constitutional independence.
Economic and Labor Rights
State constitutions include provisions protecting economic liberty, or the right to engage in work without undue interference; property rights, including protections against takings; and provisions that protect workers’ rights. Florida’s constitution, for example, protects the right “to be rewarded for industry,” and Montana protects the right to pursue “life’s basic necessities.” Illinois’s constitution protects workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively. Washington’s privileges and immunities clause has been used to strike down a law excluding dairy workers from overtime pay.
State supreme courts hear challenges related to business regulations and occupational licensing requirements, dangerous work environments, inadequate wages and hour requirements, collective bargaining rights, public employee benefits, and other issues.
Tyler v. Hennepin County shows why a federal floor for constitutional property rights is vital.
Ohio is the latest state to conclude that state courts need not defer to state agency interpretations of state law.