New Federalism and Civil Rights Enforcement

80 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2021 Last revised: 2 Feb 2022

See all articles by Alex Reinert

Alex Reinert

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Joanna C. Schwartz

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

James E. Pfander

Northwestern University School of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2021

Abstract

Calls for change to the infrastructure of civil rights enforcement have grown more insistent in the past several years, attracting support from a wide range of advocates; scholars; and federal, state, and local officials. Much of the attention has focused on federal-level reforms, including proposals to overrule Supreme Court doctrines that stop many civil rights lawsuits in their tracks. But state and local officials share responsibility for the enforcement of civil rights and have underappreciated powers to adopt reforms of their own. This Article evaluates a range of state and local interventions, including the adoption of state law causes of action for constitutional violations; improved local budgeting and indemnification practices; and new litigation strategies that encourage government attorneys charged with defending civil rights litigation to take better account of the significant public interest in enforcing constitutional norms. Rather than await federal reforms that may never come, the many state and local officials who have advocated for change can draw on our reform agenda to translate their professed commitments into law and policy.

Keywords: civil rights litigation; Section 1983; qualified immunity; federalism; budgeting; ethics; policing

JEL Classification: K13, K41, K42, K100

Suggested Citation

Reinert, Alexander A. and Schwartz, Joanna C. and Pfander, James E., New Federalism and Civil Rights Enforcement (February 1, 2021). 116 Northwestern University Law Review 737 (2021), UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 21-08, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 21-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3776882

Alexander A. Reinert

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

55 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
United States

Joanna C. Schwartz (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
(310) 206-4032 (Phone)

James E. Pfander

Northwestern University School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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