Document Type



Differences in the establishment and empowerment of American judicial systems should trigger variations in the ways in which cases are handled and law is practiced. Such differences are found in the sections of state constitutions dealing with the judiciary and known as judicial articles. Unfortunately, those differences are often overlooked. Perhaps the oversight is partially attributable to the widely held view that any variations in the constitutional foundations of judicial systems are meaningless, in that no practical consequences flow from them. In effect this view parallels the popular notion that all seemingly comparable branches of state governments actually have comparable powers, and that whatever differences exist originate chiefly from such non-constitutional sources as political ideology and community setting. A circuit court is a circuit court is a circuit court. When you've seen one intermediate appellate court, you've seen them all. Those sentiments are troubling because the differences in state judicial articles are meaningful and should result in significant consequences in judicial powers. Under current American constitutional law, all trial courts do not possess the same power to make substantive law; all high courts do not possess the same authority to regulate the practice of law; and all judges do not possess the same responsibility for checking legislative conduct. This article will first explore some of the current differences in state judicial articles, as well as some of the historical changes in the judicial article of Illinois. The article will then highlight a few of the consequences that should flow from those differences. A brief discussion of a few problems in differentiating state judicial articles will conclude this article. In calling for more attention to constitutional language, this paper urges that as there has developed an increased sensitivity to the differences in individual rights from one American state to another, there should also develop a heightened recognition of and respect for variations in the structure, function and operation of American judicial systems.

Publication Date


Original Citation

Jeffrey A. Parness, Respecting State Judicial Articles, 3 Emerging Issues in St. Const. L. 65 (1990).


College of Law

Legacy Department

College of Law



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