Our Localism: Part II--Localism and Legal Theory

Briffault, Richard

This Article presents a study of "Our Localism"-- of the legal powers of contemporary American local governments, the practical social and political ramifications of local legal power in a system characterized by wide divergences in local fiscal capabilities and needs and the ideological commitment to localism that sustains and legitimates local autonomy. It does so by pursuing a middle path, attempting neither a ground-level account of the law or politics of individual states or local governments nor a high theory examination of local autonomy as a matter of general political philosophy. Instead, it seeks, through a focus on a handful of selected legal issues, to provide a general treatment of the law of state-local relations with particular attention to the question of local power, and to make an argument concerning the proper scope of local autonomy within the specific setting of contemporary metropolitan America. The first half of Part II addresses city-suburb differences and examines the role of local government law in the rise of the suburb as a distinctive and increasingly dominant form of urban community. The second half of Part II takes a more normative approach.


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Columbia Law Review

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September 16, 2016


This is the second part of a two-part article by Richard Briffault. The first portion is entitled "Our Localism: Part I--The Structure of Local Government Law."