Restoring Lost Connections: Land Use, Policing, and Urban Vitality

Restoring Lost Connections: Land Use, Policing, and Urban Vitality

By Nicole Stelle Garnett*

* Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School. This speech was delivered as the 2010 Brennan Lecture at the Oklahoma City University School of Law on April 8, 2010.

Excerpt from Restoring Lost Connections: Land Use, Policing, and Urban Vitality, 36 Okla. City U.L. Rev. 253 (Spring, 2011)

Introduction

Justice William Brennan rightfully reminded all of us that state constitutional law is too often neglected in our courtrooms and our classrooms. 1 State constitutions, to borrow from the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, ought not to be "relegated to the status of a poor relation" in our constitutional legal structure. 2 They differ in important ways from the federal law Constitution - and those differences provide the space within which our democratic experiment flourishes. And I am sure if Justice Brennan were here with us today, he would agree that we also should not neglect the study of the state and local policies that that experiment generates. As I am constantly reminding my students, the state and local governments - and the laws that they make and enforce - have a far greater daily impact on our lives than the federal-law policies that take center stage in most law school classrooms.

Specifically, I would like to focus my remarks, which I am honored to have been asked to give, on local governments and the laws and policies that they make and enforce. As Richard Briffault has observed, the discourse in the legal academy on local government law generally proceeds from an assumption of local powerlessness. 3 And, it is the case, that as a matter of legal theory, local governments exist by the grace of - and at the whims of - state governments. 4 In reality, however, local governments exercise considerable autonomy to shape policies that affect, ...

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