This chapter provides an historical and theoretical overview of the conception of equality in state constitutional law. Equality is a principle that enjoys a long history in state constitutional law. Early state constitutions contained provisions mandating equal rights for all persons or prohibiting special privileges or immunities. Such provisions can be found in many state constitutions today. After the Civil War, a number of states also enacted constitutional provisions mandating equal protection of the laws. With the rise of the New Judicial Federalism, some states have created a conception of equality that transcends the federal model of equal protection. While the federal notion of equality has become relatively static, its state counterpart is dynamic and, hence, responsive to the evolving needs of a changing society. In recent years, it has been the state courts that have led the movement to recognize new rights by expanding the guarantee of equality.
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