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The Supreme Court and the States: Reflections on Boynton v. Virginia, 49 California Law Review 15 (1961)


The American lawyer's well-advertised enthusiasm for taking even the flimsiest case "to the highest court in the land" is doubtless overdrawn. It is, nevertheless, true that the American bar-and the American people-have a long-standing penchant for constitutionalism, a penchant which was well developed when Tocqueville described it with clinical devotion more than a century ago. And a by-product of this phenomenon is the inescapable fact that very humble controversies have not infrequently reached the Supreme Court and provided the occasion for constitutional decisions of high consequence. It is especially noteworthy, and highly salutary, that the Supreme Court's revisory authority over the courts of the several states is not trammeled by jurisdictional limitations tied to the dollar value of a civil judgment or the severity of a criminal conviction.

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