• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court declared that it would assume that state courts relied on federal law unless the courts clearly demonstrated otherwise.

By a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court attempted to unravel the perplexing question of how to interpret the “independent and adequate state grounds” issue. The case sprang from a Michigan supreme court decision about automobile searches. The ambiguity concerning just what constitutional provisions were involved in the lower court’s decision led the Court to declare that it would regard state decisions as being based on federal law in most cases. In her opinion for the Court, Justice Sandra Day O’ConnorO’Connor, Sandra Day[OConnor, Sandra Day];Michigan v. Long[Michigan v. Long] stated that federal law was assumed to be the guiding model unless the state court clearly indicated that “federal cases were only being used for guidance” and the decision rested on “adequate and independent” state grounds. Justice Harry A. Blackmun concurred. Justices William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and John Paul Stevens dissented.Independent and adequate state grounds;Michigan v. Long[Michigan v. Long]

Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins

Federalism

Gelpcke v. Dubuque

Independent and adequate state grounds doctrine

Swift v. Tyson

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