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At this point, four years into the new century, most readers must be tired of the invocation of the "twenty-first century" in law review articles. Yet, "the twenty-first century" in the title of this article is significant. The home rule idea first entered American law in the nineteenth century, an era with different forms of urban political, social, and economic organization, and a different role for local government. As the nature of urban development and the role of local government changes, home rule must change with it.

Home rule is a complex topic. Home rule takes many legal forms and follows many models. There is considerable interstate and even intrastate variation. In some states, home rule follows from a self-executing constitutional grant of power. In other states, the constitutional grant must be implemented by legislation. In still others, home rule is purely statutory. Even within a state, the source and the scope of home rule may vary between cities and counties, or even among cities. In many states, the home rule grant is relatively brief. In others, there is a detailed constitutional and statutory treatment of a broad range of powers and limitations. Moreover, in every state, home rule is shaped by court decisions, with the judicial approach to similar home rule language varying from state to state, and even within a state, depending on the issue presented.


Law | State and Local Government Law


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