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Studia Iuridica

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In many countries in the world today democratic institutions and ideals seem threatened. Due process, equal protection, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to vote, and other democratic ideals are deeply ingrained in US culture and government. Traditionally, the federal government is thought to be the guardian of these rights, ensuring that state governments adhere to the rule of law established by our written constitution. Similarly, state governments are thought to uphold these democratic ideals vis a vis local governments. The American system of checks and balances and separation of powers and the resulting interplay between the branches of government are considered safeguards that protect the rule of law. This horizontal separation of powers often overshadows the similar function served by the vertical separation of governmental power created by our division of power into federal, state and local. If the federal and state governments act contrary to the rule of law established by our federal and state constitutions, local governments offer at least some degree of authoritarian resilience. The goal of this article is to set forth the manner in which local governments may resist anti-democratic action from federal and state governments and then to discuss the danger posed in the United States by the recent increase in State preemptions of local government power - particularly in regard to sanctuary cities, climate change, gun regulation, affordable housing, and LGBT rights. Ultimately, governments at different levels are intended to monitor each other and when local governments are preempted from exercising their powers in regard to socially important issues their authoritarian resilience is seriously impaired.

Recommended Citation

Julian C. Juergensmeyer & Andrew F. Prater, Is State Preemption Weakening the Authoritarian Resilience of Local Government in the United States?, 79 Studia Iuridica 148 (2019).





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