Some Dilemmas in Drawing the Public/Private Distinction in New Deal Era State Constitutional Law
State constitutional law and state constitutions are generally understudied, and the historical development of state constitutionalism is particularly understudied. In some ways, state constitutionalism mirrors developments at the national level, but in other ways states are distinctive. One of the distinctive features of state constitutions relates to the conceptual distinction between the public and the private. At the national level, the public/private distinction in the economic realm largely collapsed, and the vague provisions of the U.S. Constitution facilitated that collapse. At the state level, however, constitutional text often embodied features of the public/private distinction, putting more pressure on judges to try to understand and implement the distinction even in the midst of the crisis of the Great Depression and the political and constitutional struggles of the New Deal.