Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



We have recently been reminded that one of the current and recurrent quandaries of the Supreme Court of the United States arises from the American constitutional system's counterpart of the philosophical problem of the One and the Many. When an individual's freedom is involved, the question is whether and to what degree state legislators, public officials and judicial officers shall be called upon to enforce standards of respect for personal liberties defined by the Federal Constitution and the United States Supreme Court; or, put another way, how far the first eight amendments of the Federal Constitution are incorporated into the Fourteenth (the latter is, of course, binding upon state action). In 1947, the Court by a majority of a single vote refused to take the doctrinal position that the entire Federal Bill of Rights is binding upon the states. Today, with the replacement of Justices Rutledge and Murphy by Justices Clark and Minton, the Court seems even more firmly committed to the position that only certain of the first eight amendments apply to the states--those which are "fundamental," those which are "of the very essence of a scheme of ordered liberty." Undeniably included among these fundamental provisions are the prohibitions of the First Amendment.