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Hidden LawsHow State Constitutions Stabilize American Politics$
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Robinson Woodward-Burns

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780300248692

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300248692.001.0001

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Welfare States, 1932–1979

Welfare States, 1932–1979

(p.145) 6 Welfare States, 1932–1979
Hidden Laws

Robinson Woodward-Burns

Yale University Press

This chapter recounts New Deal and Great Society constitutional development in three chronological steps. The first section outlines the labor and pension debates that gripped Congress and the Court through the 1930s and 1940s, noting how New Dealers built federal labor and welfare protections atop existing state constitutional wage, hours, and pension protections. The second section recounts a similar pattern of convergence as the NAACP, AFL, CIO, and other reform groups worked to amend state constitutions to repeal poll taxes and legislative malapportionment, affirming and elaborating federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) and federal court voting protections. Finally, as the 1973 Equal Rights Amendment failed, reformers entrenched gender equality through state constitutional reform, stifling further attempts at federal reform. In all three cases, state constitutional reform helped address and resolve national constitutional controversies.

Keywords:   New Deal, Welfare, Labor rights, Great Society, Voting rights, Civil rights movement, Equal Rights Amendment

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