The California Supreme Court Surprisingly Upheld Pension Reform Last Month
The Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution is fairly accommodating to state legislatures that try to alter the obligations of contracts, including the contractually vested rights associated with state and local public employee pension benefits. But states generally have their own constitutional contract clauses—and state supreme courts are the supreme arbiters of what their own constitutions require. Some states go even further and have extra constitutional provisions specifically protecting public employee pensions; but regardless of the precise wording, state supreme courts that are disposed to grant public employee pensions constitutional protection have plenty of ways to do so.
California, for instance, along with some other states, like Arizona and Illinois, has long been known for its
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