The Attack on American Cities

69 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2017

See all articles by Richard Schragger

Richard Schragger

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: August 25, 2017

Abstract

American cities are under attack. The last few years have witnessed an explosion of preemptive legislation challenging and overriding municipal ordinances across a wide-range of policy areas. City-state conflicts over the municipal minimum wage, LGBT anti-discrimination, and sanctuary city laws have garnered the most attention, but these conflicts are representative of a larger trend toward state aggrandizement. These legal challenges to municipal regulation have been accompanied by an increasingly shrill anti-city politics, emanating from both state and federal officials. This Article describes this politics by way of assessing the nature of—and reasons for—the hostility to city lawmaking. It argues that anti-urbanism is a long-standing and enduring feature of American federalism and seeks to understand how a constitutional system overtly dedicated to the principles of devolution can be so hostile to the exercise of municipal power. The Article also provides a current accounting of state preemptive legislation and assesses the cities’ potential legal and political defenses. It concludes that without a significant rethinking of state-based federalism the American city is likely to remain vulnerable.

Keywords: preemption, cities, municipal law, states, federalism, anti-urbanism, sanctuary cities, home rule, Trump

Suggested Citation

Schragger, Richard, The Attack on American Cities (August 25, 2017). University of Texas School of Law, Texas Law Review, Forthcoming; Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2017-46. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3026142

Richard Schragger (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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