Local governments often affect our daily lives in far more concrete ways than do the federal or state government. Local laws and services can determine where we live, build, or work; how our children are going to be educated; and the quality of life in and outside our neighborhoods. This course will explore the legal structure of local governments, including the sources of local government authority, limits on local government actions, the tension between state and local control, and the internal decision-making structures of local governments. Our non-exclusive focus will be on urban government. We will read cases and draw on examples from around the country, with an emphasis on Pennsylvania and Philadelphia.
Through a combination of lecture and much class discussion, we will consider whether it makes sense for more or fewer government functions to be performed at the local level; we will examine the mechanisms in place to promote well-informed decision making in the public interest; and we will examine the factors that go into local government policy-making. Topics of study likely will include home rule, preemption, internal separation of powers, land use regulation, public education, government contracting, revenue generation, government tort liability, and the role of the local government lawyer. We also will look at how the law affects local government’s ability to address current pressing issues; possible topics include homelessness, COVID-19, policing, and racial disparities. You will be evaluated on the quality of your class participation (10%); one short paper discussing a local government meeting of your choosing (30%); and one cumulative final exam (60%). Regular attendance is expected.
|T/Th 2:35-3:50 PM||Klein 1D|
3 credit exam course.