Faced with the dead-end nature of attempting to use the United States Constitution to develop enforceable minimum standards of care for the poor, the poor and their advocates have looked to state constitutional and statutory law for the protection of basic needs. Compared to the textual wasteland of the Federal Constitution, state constitutions have much to offer. Many state constitutions contain substantive provisions dealing explicitly with poverty, housing, shelter, and nutrition. Many state constitutions also include declarations that set out as inalienable the right to seek and/or obtain safety and the right to pursue and/or obtain happiness. This article chronicles the attempt of advocates for the poor in Ohio to elucidate protection of basic needs from the state's constitution.
Bert B. Lockwood Jr., et al., Litigating State Constitutional Rights to Happiness and Safety: A Strategy for Ensuring the Provision of Basic Needs to the Poor, 2 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 1 (1993).