Categories: Municipal and Local Government
This course studies state and local government law in the United States. Although much of legal discourse focuses on the national government, it is in fact state and local governments that influence much of our day to day lives. Moreover, state and local government decision-making will play a prominent role in many of your legal careers. And state and local government law is at the center of some of the most significant theoretical and normative questions in American law, including those regarding democracy, federalism, and distributive justice.
The course will include study of the allocation of authority within and between state and local governments. This will include analysis of the three branches of state government and separation of powers questions arising among them, as well as analysis of how local governments are structured, financed, and organized. We will also study how state and local governments interact, covering doctrines of home rule and intrastate preemption. Throughout, we will ask whether and how current doctrines and policies implicate democracy, efficiency, and distributive justice. In addition, we will explore how these various doctrines and ideas play out in the context of contemporary disputes, including over housing, education, and immigration.
This course will have components of both a traditional lecture class and a more hands-on research seminar. Students will attend and participate in weekly lectures; they will also learn about the need for research on state and local issues and will complete a final paper or project on a topic relevant to the course. Depending on course enrollment, one or more adjunct instructors may participate in the supervision of final research projects.