There are some ideas that seem self-apparent, such as the notion that states may interpret their own constitutions to expand individual rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. The idea that the federal Constitution represents the "floor" for individual rights and that states may set the "ceiling" is beyond dispute. However, there is a lively debate on whether state courts should first look to their own constitutions when resolving issues, termed the primacy method of analysis, or defer to the interpretations of the United States Supreme Court. This debate is most heated in the criminal procedure area because of the activism of the Warren Court and the retrenchment from that activism by the Burger and Rehnquist courts. The controversy has been heightened by recent assertions of state court independence and an increased willingness for the Supreme Court to review these decisions. At the debate's core are historical notions of federalism that have been brought into question, creating the term "new federalism."
Part II of this Comment examines the history and evolution in the development of federalism and the role that state constitutions have assumed. Part III analyzes the adequate and independent state grounds doctrine, which immunizes state court decisions from federal review. Part IV describes the different methods of constitutional analysis that states employ. Part V discusses the independence of Florida's Constitution and the Florida Supreme Court's decision in Traylor v. State. Part VI examines the future of the independent method of analysis in Florida by focusing on self-incrimination.
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