The Local Turn; Innovation and Diffusion in Civil Rights Law

Law and Contemporary Problems, Duke University School of Law, Volume 79, Number 3, 2016

Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-535

30 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2016

Date Written: November 1, 2016

Abstract

Is the future of civil rights subnational? If one is looking for civil rights innovation, much of this innovation might be happening through legislation, regulatory frameworks, and policies adopted by state and local governments. In recent years, states and cities have adopted legislation banning discrimination in housing based on the source of an individual’s income, regulating the consideration of arrest or conviction in employment decisions, and prohibiting discrimination in employment based on an applicant’s credit history. While the deployment of subnational power is not new to civil rights, what does appear novel is the number of these initiatives in recent years alongside the possibility that these state and local measures might not end inevitably with national civil rights legislation. Many of these innovations build on recent movements to use local regulatory frameworks to increase wages and work conditions for lower income workers, and these innovations address not just identity exclusion based on race or ethnicity but also exclusions based on socioeconomic status. The political economy that sustains their emergence and implementation depends on demographics and political cultures that are largely centered on cities and large metropolitan regions. In addition, some of the innovations proliferating at the state and local levels such as local first-source hiring, community-benefits agreements (CBAs), and inclusionary zoning depend on regulatory powers exclusive to subnational governments. This article explores whether this “local turn” in civil rights law can ever be a satisfactory equilibrium for those interested in advancing civil rights and equality, and offers a cautiously hopeful account of how these subnational innovations might succeed and even spread beyond particular localities.

Keywords: Civil Rights, State and Local, Innovation, Diffusion, Discrimination, Housing, Employment, Community Benefits Agreement, Inclusionary Zoning, Federalism, Preemption, Legislation, Regulation

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Olatunde C., The Local Turn; Innovation and Diffusion in Civil Rights Law (November 1, 2016). Law and Contemporary Problems, Duke University School of Law, Volume 79, Number 3, 2016; Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-535. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2864562

Olatunde C. Johnson (Contact Author)

Columbia University Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
85
rank
284,057
Abstract Views
298
PlumX Metrics