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Course Details

Course Number: 91-815

State and Local Government Law

Units: 12

“Studying local government law requires thinking about the organization of American government: how much decentralization of power is possible – and desirable - in the United States?

Decentralization has always been a controversial topic in American political life. Many people, both on the right and the left of the American political spectrum, argue that decentralization of power is an essential - and increasing threatened - ingredient of political freedom. Genuine democratic self-government, they claim, is possible only on a local level because only local government is close enough to its constituents to permit their participation in the decisionmaking that affects their lives. Moreover, only local government can tailor its policies to the needs and desires of a particular community. Others, however, defend the long-standing effort in the Unites States to increase the power of the state governments over cities and to increase the power of the federal government over both slates and cities. Centralization, they contend is necessary to regulate the effects of local decisionmaking on outsiders, to minimize conflicts between local policies, to overcome inter-jurisdictional inequity and to prevent the invasion of minority rights.

Local government law is one of the ways in which the legal system resolves this debate between the proponents of decentralization and centralization.”

Gerald E. Frug, Local Government Law, 3rd Edition, Introduction, p. v.
This course focuses on relationships between:

Cities and states and between cities and the federal government
Neighboring cities
Cities and their citizens

Syllabus