More than half of the state constitutions declare the right of persons "to pursue and obtain happiness and safety," or some variation on that language, but lawyers and judges seldom think to invoke those provisions in asserting or considering state constitutional claims. Professor Grodin, formerly a Justice of the California Supreme Court, explores the roots of such language in classical and Enlightenment philosophy. He then examines judicial opinions which have drawn upon the language and considers the way in which it might inform modem constitutional doctrine.
Professor Grodin argues that the history and text of the language, viewed from a modem perspective, would support constitutional protection for a core of conduct and decisions central to individual identity and development. Such an application of the language would parallel federal and state constitutional developments under the rubric of privacy but would provide a more affirmative, coherent, and textually based grounding for the development of jurisprudence relating to such issues as abortion, sexual orientation, and the right to assistance in dying than the concept of privacy provides.
Joseph R. Grodin,
Rediscovering the State Constitutional Right to Happiness and Safety,
25 Hastings Const. L.Q. 1
Available at: https://repository.uchastings.edu/hastings_constitutional_law_quaterly/vol25/iss1/1